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Medical Marijuana

How Much Weed is Too Much for Nurses?

By | Blog, Healthcare Policy, Kathleen Bartholomew, Medical Marijuana | No Comments

This is the first guest blog in a series by Kathleen Bartholomew, author of The Dauntless Nurse. Don’t forget to read her second post in the series “It all comes back to staffing

There -are now 28 states that have approved the use of medical marijuana – and 8 states recreationally. So chances are strong that some nurses are using marijuana for medical reasons, or for recreation. But how much is too much?

One joint in the 1970’s has the same potency of one puff today. Since 1998 the potency of marijuana has doubled. But what if you smoke a few hours before your shift? Edibles can take a few hours to feel the effects – and if you smoke it can take three hours or more to get out of your system. Having a medical-use card does not give nurses sufficient protection, as discussed this Medscape article.

Nurse Mary has lupus and a medical marijuana card. She also wants to make sure she is safe taking care of her patients; and that her license is safe. The laws don’t prohibit use unless it impairs practice, but employers can still take action. So both of these areas are still gray zones as marijuana is not supported federally, there is no consensus on toxicity level, and a hospital can decide independently to fire someone who tests positive whether they have a card or not. In Washington State for example, driving under the influence of marijuana is similar to driving drunk: 0.8 for alcohol – or 5ng/ml THC. But do you know your THC level when you arrive at work?

“If you consistently notice any of the problems listed below in a peer, it is your ethical obligation to compassionately go to your peer, and share your concerns. Our primary obligation as nurses is to protect our patients, but we should also care for each other. A large percentage of nurses are over the age of 45, so some of the symptoms below may be related to menopause! We shouldn’t jump to conclusions or make judgments, but most importantly we can’t ignore impaired nurses.

How would you handle a situation with a nurse that appeared to be impaired?

What would you do if a nurse had symptoms of being impaired by marijuana such as:

  • Short term memory problem
  • Impaired thinking and or delayed decision making
  • Decreased concentration
  • Impaired ability to perform complex tasks
  • Decreased alertness and reaction time
  • Paranoia and/or drowsiness (and of course, Increased appetite!)
  • Washington State Liquor and Cannabis Board

    See more from Kathleen Bartholomew Here: http://www.kathleenbartholomew.com

    Check out the Dauntless Nurse Here: https://www.amazon.com/Dauntless-Nurse-Communi…/…/B01MTLK5QI

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