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Can Nurse Practitioners Prescribe/Recommend Medical Marijuana?

  • In Louisiana, nurse practitioners can recommend medical cannabis as long as they’re licensed by the Louisiana State Board of Nursing and have been granted prescriptive authority by the Board
  • Sixteen other states and Washington D.C. also allow nurse practitioners to recommend medical cannabis
  • Each state’s laws are different regarding medical marijuana recommendations, so be sure to find an informed provider who can help you navigate the process

If you’re considering getting a medical card for depression or another chronic condition, you might be wondering—can any provider offer a recommendation? What about nurse practitioners?

According to cannabis laws in Louisiana, nurse practitioners can recommend medical cannabis to patients. Nurse practitioners are also authorized to recommend medical marijuana in sixteen other states and in Washington, D.C.

How does this impact the accessibility of medical cannabis in Louisiana and beyond? In this guide, we’re exploring laws in both Louisiana and other states and offering prospective patients a step-by-step process for getting their medical marijuana card.

Louisiana Law: Who Can Recommend Medical Cannabis?

Let’s start in TeleLeaf’s home state of Louisiana. While nurse practitioners can recommend medical cannabis, this wasn’t always the case.

Until House Bill 190 passed in June of 2022, only licensed physicians could provide patient recommendations for medical marijuana. Now, cannabis laws in Louisiana permit three distinct types of medical professionals to recommend medical marijuana:

  1. Any physician licensed to practice medicine in the state and in good standing with the Louisiana State Board of Medical Examiners
  2. Any advanced practice registered nurse (“nurse practitioner”) licensed by the Louisiana State Board of Nursing who has been granted prescriptive authority by the Board
  3.  Any medical psychologist licensed and in good standing with the Louisiana State Board of Medical Examiners

What does this mean for patients in Louisiana, practically speaking?

  • More providers can recommend medical cannabis – By sheer numbers, House Bill 190 increased the number of clinicians who could recommend medical cannabis. This means there are more providers available to help patients find plant-based healing.
  • Cannabis is more accessible to patients – Since there are more eligible providers and a more competitive marketplace has emerged, patients can get medical card recommendations faster and more affordably than they could in the past.

Other State Laws

What about states outside of Louisiana? Currently, sixteen states and Washington, D.C. allow nurse practitioners to recommend medical cannabis:

  • Hawaii
  • Illinois
  • Iowa
  • Massachusetts
  • Maryland
  • Maine
  • Minnesota
  • North Dakota
  • New Hampshire
  • New Mexico
  • New York
  • Rhode Island
  • Utah
  • Virginia
  • Vermont
  • Washington

You’ll notice that, in some of these jurisdictions, adult use (i.e., “recreational”) marijuana is legal. Why might a patient choose to pursue a medical card in a state where adult access is relatively simple without one?

  • To consult a provider – While patients don’t need a medical card to talk about cannabis with their providers, state medical card programs provide prospective patients with a critical resource: an updated list of open-minded, cannabis-informed providers. Many patients choose to consult experts throughout their treatment journey to optimize their health and wellness plans.
  • Reduced cost – In some states, medical cannabis products are cheaper than recreational cannabis products. This is the case in Colorado, where medical marijuana is only subject to the state sales tax while recreational marijuana is subject to additional fees.
  • Exceptional circumstances – For patients under the legal age for recreational access, people with complex legal histories, or others with extenuating circumstances, medical card programs can offer access to medical marijuana in some cases.

Simply put, patients looking for medical marijuana cards in the states above are in luck—with nurse practitioners authorized to recommend, the process is quick and simple.

Getting a Medical Marijuana Recommendation: 4 Easy Steps

With all of the above in mind, how exactly do patients go about getting the recommendation they need to start medical marijuana treatment? In most states, the process is simple (and it’s even simpler in Louisiana):

#1 Find a Provider

The first step? Finding an open-minded, cannabis-informed healthcare provider who’s qualified to make a recommendation.

Each state’s laws are different, but in Louisiana:

  • Any healthcare provider (as long as they’re a licensed physician, nurse practitioner, or psychologist) can recommend medical cannabis.
  • Providers aren’t limited to a specific list of conditions—they can recommend medical cannabis for any health condition they feel would benefit from cannabis treatment.

Outside of Louisiana, patients should find out if:

  • Their state has a specific list of providers authorized to recommend medical marijuana
  • Providers can only recommend cannabis to patients with certain conditions

Luckily, in states with limited authorized providers, health departments typically maintain registries that patients can use to search for local clinicians.

The simplest way to find a cannabis-informed provider? Partner with TeleLeaf. Our providers are licensed and authorized to recommend medical cannabis virtually, making the medical card process more convenient than ever before.

#2 Talk About Medical Cannabis

Once you find a provider you’re compatible with and schedule your first appointment, it’s time to prepare for your visit.

Before your appointment:

  • Collect your thoughts – Whether you print out your symptom journal or simply make a list of your concerns, preparing to talk to your provider will give them the full picture of your health and help them make the most appropriate recommendation.
  • Prepare payment – While specific costs will depend on your chosen provider, medical marijuana care generally isn’t covered by insurance. So, you’ll need to make sure you can pay out of pocket for your appointment, any state fees, and your medical marijuana products.

During your appointment, be sure to ask your provider any questions you have about medical cannabis: these experts are happy to answer your questions about drug interactions, safety, and other topics.

If you and your provider decide that you’re a good fit for medical marijuana treatment, you’ll proceed to the next step in the process.

#3 Apply for a Medical Marijuana Card (Not Applicable in Louisiana)

If you live in Louisiana, you can skip straight to Step 4: Louisiana doesn’t issue physical or digital medical marijuana cards. Instead, your provider will send your recommendation right to the marijuana pharmacy of your choosing, where you can talk to a budtender and pick up your prescription.

If you live outside of Louisiana, however, you’ll likely have to complete an additional administrative step: applying for a medical card with your state’s requisite agency.

While this process varies slightly between states, prepare to:

  • Complete an application – In addition to getting a provider’s recommendation, you’ll likely need to complete an application form. Your provider can help you find, complete, and file this form.
  • Provide identification – Many states require prospective patients to submit ID documents (like a driver’s license or passport) with their application.
  • Pay fees – If your state assesses a fee for medical cannabis card applications, you’ll be expected to pay these out of pocket. However, some states offer fee waivers for patients in financial need.

After submitting your payment and documents, your state’s agency will review your application and, if it’s approved, they’ll send you a physical or digital medical marijuana card.

#4 Visit a Dispensary or Pharmacy

Once you have your medical card in hand (or your recommendation has been sent, if you live in Louisiana), you’re free to visit a dispensary or pharmacy to choose your medical cannabis products.

For more information about how to navigate your first dispensary visit, check out TeleLeaf’s dispensary how-to.

Your visit will likely be quick and simple:

  • After a staff member checks your ID, you’ll have a chance to review available products while you wait in line.
  • When it’s your turn, a budtender (an expert working behind the counter) will walk you through choosing your medical marijuana products.
  • After choosing your items, you’ll check out and head home to start your treatment plan.

And just like that, your journey with medical cannabis can begin in earnest.

TeleLeaf: Get a Medical Cannabis Recommendation Today

In many states, prospective medical cannabis patients can talk through their treatment with licensed nurse practitioners—but this doesn’t mean that finding open-minded, cannabis-informed providers is a walk in the park.

With TeleLeaf, you can skip the long search for a compatible provider: our network of licensed cannabis clinicians is here to help you get your medical card and curate a customized treatment plan efficiently and affordably.

Ready to find a provider who gets you? Reach out to us now to schedule an appointment.


Louisiana State Legislature. HB190.

Medscape. Certifying Medical Cannabis: What APRNs Need to Know.

The Dispensary. Medical vs. Recreational Marijuana in Colorado.

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