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Objective: The objective of this article is to describe the potential benefits of medicinal cannabis in emesis control and the position of nurses looking after palliative patients who are on medicinal cannabis treatment in Australia.
Setting; Palliative care
Primary argument: Cannabis is the most commonly abused drug and its use for medical purposes was restricted throughout the world since the early 20th century. However many clinical studies show that the natural cannabinoid compounds can stimulate the cannabinoid receptors in the brain leading to attenuation of signal transmission, resulting in alleviation of the vomiting stimuli. The debate about the use of cannabis as an anti-emetic agent in patients with life-limiting conditions has renewed interest in recent years. The principle of palliative care is to improve the quality of life of patients living with life-limiting conditions based on the best evidence available. Although some evidence suggests cannabis may have therapeutic effects on some palliative patients and the Australian Commonwealth Government has recently changed the legislation, the concept of using medicinal cannabis in emesis control is very new to many Australians including the health care providers.
Conclusion: In comparison to conventional medications, medicinal use of cannabis in palliative care is a new phenomenon and nurses as well as general public may be less prepared for the use of cannabis as a medical modality in all clinical settings. This review is intended to raise awareness of the physiological mechanism of cannabis and its medicinal use to the nurses in Australia.