Are you ready to administer marijuana?

29 May

Mat Keller headshot

By Mathew Keller RN JD, Regulatory and Policy Nursing Specialist

With Minnesota’s medical cannabis law set to take effect on July 1, Minnesota nurses will likely be asked to administer medical marijuana in the hospital setting.  But are you ready to do so?  Here’s what you need to know about the new law.

  • Patients will not receive a medical marijuana “prescription” from a physician or APRN. Instead, a patient’s provider will certify that the patient has a medical condition that qualifies for medical cannabis use.  The patient will then need to register with the Minnesota Department of Health in order to be eligible to utilize the medication.
  • Patients will not be able to pick up medical cannabis from the local pharmacy. There are eight locations in the state that are licensed to dispense medical marijuana.
  • Patients will not be able to smoke their medical cannabis.  Raw leaf, flowers, and edibles are not allowed under the Minnesota law: only pills, oils, and liquids are allowed.
  • Your facility may ask you to administer medical cannabis. Each facility will surely have its own policy and procedure on patients who are admitted and bring their own medical cannabis.  It is possible that your facility may ask the patient to turn the medications over to the hospital pharmacy, which would then ask you to administer the medical cannabis.
  • You and  your facility are protected under state law while administering or providing care to someone who is taking medical cannabis.  Minnesota recently passed an amendment to the medical cannabis law.  Per the MN Department of Health:

    The amendment extends protections and immunities to employees of health care facilities to possess medical cannabis while carrying out their employment duties. These protections include providing care or distributing medical cannabis to a patient on the Minnesota medical cannabis patient registry who is actively receiving treatment or care at the facility. The amendment also allows health care facilities to reasonably restrict the use of medical cannabis by patients. For example, the facility may choose not [to] store or maintain a patient’s supply of medical cannabis or that use of medical cannabis may be limited to a specific location.

  • Federal law still prohibits the distribution and use of medical cannabis. Under federal law, medical cannabis remains a Schedule I drug.  Given state law protections, however, the potential liability and level of concern for individual nurses who are asked to administer medical cannabis per hospital policy should be low.


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