In the same way nursing was once taken up by women on the battlefield, Cannabis Nurses are repeating history on the frontlines of today’s battle against Big Pharma.
Heather Manus, RN is an awarded medical expert specializing in cannabis care and patient empowerment. Suffering from debilitating depression, severe anxiety and suicidal tendencies after an incident in 2000, she was prescribed a list of pharmaceuticals to help her cope. For five years, her quality of life declined. A “natural born healer” with previous training in traditional plant medicine, Heather quit her prescriptions cold turkey and began restoring herself through cannabis, yoga, regular activity and a balanced diet.
Newly restored, Heather “. . . felt compelled to learn about Western medicine,” and in 2009 received her RN Certification through San Juan College and Highland University for Home Health Psychiatric Nursing, followed by a degree in Psychology the following semester.
Serendipity connected the dots during a home visit with a new patient a few years later. “This patient suffered from multiple sclerosis and had ‘cannabis’ listed on his medical records. That was the first time I had ever seen that,” she recalls. Pursuing the opportunity, Nurse Heather educated herself on cannabis and the methods of administration, dosing, preventative treatments, results and more.
Armed with more treatment evidence, Nurse Heather “began to assess patients differently . . . and was able to activate them legally.” Simultaneously, she connected with alternative healthcare professionals, registered nurses of all specialties and cannabis refugees in the medical field. As her awareness grew, so did her knowledge, education and focus of “the endocannabinoid system, which is the balancing system for the mind, body and spirit,” Heather explains.
Despite being met with ignorance and deep-rooted negative stigmas surrounding cannabis, Heather continues to progress with the “ability to empower patients with knowledge that helps them make healthier choices in their lives . . . [and provides] solutions for methods of administration with trusted products,” she shares.
As her “scope of practice” expands, Nurse Heather looks to the future with excitement. She will continue to develop the Cannabis Nurses Network, contribute to the Cannabis Nurses Magazine and cultivate medical director relationships with dispensaries across the country.
Joanna Paterson, RCNA didn’t see herself as a healthcare professional. In fact, she traveled the country for 12 years as an active performer for Cirque de Soleil until two stress fractures in her lower left lumbar led to sciatic nerve damage and her transition out of the circus at age 28.
Coping with her new reality, she was faced with more hardship that would inevitably define her. Diagnosed in 2011, her brother Jason, creator of Cosmic Case Grinders, passed away from Angiosarcoma while Joanna legally served as his in-home caregiver. “Cannabis had been part of his quality of life,” she explains, “and as his condition worsened, it became a way of softening his transition into death. Being his caregiver inspired me to become a Hospice CRN (Clinical Resource Nurse).”
But after searching deeper into the medical field, Joanna shifted away from death and began to focus on the power of restoration. In 2015, she received her CAN (Certified Nursing Assistant) certification from the Arizona Medical Training Institute, followed by her RNA (Restorative Nurse Assistant) in 2017.
As fate would have it, Joanna’s first two patients were MMJ card holders. Using her knowledge of the endocannabinoid system, Joanna “worked closely with them, mapping out objective and subjective data to create around-the-clock care and preventative therapies using CBD and other cannabinoids.” Seeing her patients break their cycles between pain and panic—or pain and pills—Joanna knew she had discovered a molecule of hope in CBD.
Now connected to a group of medicine women, Joanna doesn’t intend to move forward with her RN certification and will instead train to become a Holistic Cannabis Nurse under the certification currently becoming curriculum in California.