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Therapeutic use of cannabis (marijuana) is finding traction among nurses. The American Cannabis Nurses Association (ACNA), whose mission is "to advance excellence in cannabis nursing practice through advocacy, collaboration, education, research, and policy development," held its first cannabis care conference in June 2023 (ACNA, 2022, p. 1).

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As cannabis is illegal at the federal level, nurses do not dispense or prescribe marijuana. Rather, according to the ACNA's vision, nurses can "improve healthcare outcomes by empowering pathways for cannabis education and competency through wisdom, compassion, integrity, and social justice principles" (ACNA, 2022, p. 1). Heather Manus, RN, founder of the Cannabis Nurses Network, said nurses can counsel patients, provide information, and advocate for patients using therapeutic cannabis (Briggs, 2023).


American Cannabis Nurses Association. (2022). Scope and standards of practice [Draft].[Context Link]


Briggs S. (2023, April 15). Oncology nurse says cannabis nursing should be an official specialty. Scrubs Magazine.[Context Link]



An estimated 1 in 5 U.S. households carries significant medical debt (U.S. Census Bureau, 2021). Church congregations across the United States are caring for their neighbors by paying off the medical debts of thousands of individuals and families each year (Shimron, 2023).


Partnering with nonprofit RIP Medical Debt, more than 800 churches have paid off millions of dollars of Americans' medical debts. The churches fundraise and collect donations with which RIP Medical Debt buys medical debt at a deep discount. For example, two mostly Black churches in Chicago joined with a Jewish synagogue in Skokie, Illinois, to pay $10,000 that RIP Medical Debt used to buy $1.9 million in debt, relieving more than 2,300 people's healthcare debts (Shimron, 2023).


Some churches fundraise to help local residents or specific populations such as people of color or indigenous households. Some churches equate this form of community care to the concept of jubilee in the Old Testament book of Leviticus where slaves were to be set free and debts canceled every 7 years. Other churches participate for the purpose of social justice.


Race, income, education, and age impact Americans' ability or lack thereof to manage healthcare costs of healthcare. Having healthcare insurance lessens but does not eradicate the debt potential for many, according to the Peterson Center on Healthcare and KFF (Rae et al., 2022).


Rae M., Claxton G., Amin K., Wager E., Ortaliza J., Cox C. (2022, March 10). The burden of medical debt in the United States. Peterson-KFF Health System Tracker.[Context Link]


Shimron Y. (2023, March 1). For many congregations, wiping out medical debt has become a popular calling. Religion News Service.[Context Link]


U.S. Census Bureau. (2021). Who had medical debt in the United States?[Context Link]



Few things are more powerful than a timely, specific word of encouragement: it can buoy those who feel unnoticed, on the verge of burnout, with depression, or feeling lonely (Glosson, 2021).


Not only is encouragement valuable (Proverbs 25:11), it can actually be healing. How can we ensure our encouragement is both effective and God-honoring?


Be specific. Perhaps the top reason many words of encouragement lack power is they aren't specific enough. When you attach your encouragement to a specific action or habit of the individual-and to a specific way it makes you feel-it shows the person your encouragement is genuine. It also reassures her that her efforts are noticed (Matthew 6:4), and that she has unique gifts and a meaningful purpose from God (Romans 12:6).


Follow with a related question. Immediately follow up with a question about how this person has come to excel in this area. For example, "You're great at (insert action). How did you get so good at this?" Asking this follow-up question allows the other person to be encouraged, and moves the conversation along naturally.


Give credit to the Holy Spirit. The primary difference between worldly compliments and biblical encouragement is that one exalts self and the other exalts God. When someone receives biblical encouragement, they walk away praising and thanking God (Glosson, 2021).


Glosson B. (2021, December 27). The neglected ministry of specific encouragement. The Gospel Coalition.[Context Link]


PulseBeats compiled by Karen Schmidt.