Scope of Practice at an All Time 'High' for Nurse Practitioners in Some States

Add prescribing medical marijuana to the scope of practice for nurse practitioners practicing in Maine. The state recently amended it's medical marijuana law replacing the word physician with the words "medical provider". The amendment took effect last August and allows nurse practitioners to prescribe the controversial treatment. Maine isn't the only state that gives NPs discretion when it comes to recommending pot to patients.

In 2010, Washington State became the first state to change legal language expanding the number of health professionals allowed to prescribe cannabis for medical purposes. The state's law names physician assistants, naturopaths, and nurse practitioners among the list of qualified professions that can approve marijuana for medical purposes. Since then, a few other states have followed suit. New Mexico and California have also recognized nurse practitioners as healthcare providers capable of writing medical marijuana recommendations. Just last week, New York approved a law legalizing medical marijuana including nurse practitioners and physician assistants among the list of approved prescribers.

Not everyone is onboard with allowing non-physician providers to prescribe medical marijuana. In 2012, Rhode Island overturned a law enabling nurse practitioners and physician assistants to recommend medical cannabis. The change sparked heated debate including the filing of a lawsuit against the state by the ACLU and Rhode Island Medical Society.

As more and more states address the medical cannabis craze we should expect to see an increasing number of locations reforming laws to include non-physician providers as approved prescribers of medical marijuana.

 

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