Understanding Cannabis Use and Cannabis Use Disorder CE Course Preview

Accreditation Information

Course Title: Understanding Cannabis Use and Cannabis Use Disorder

Release date: July, 2020

Expiration date: July, 2022

Estimated time to complete activity: 1.5 hours

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This activity is jointly provided by Medical Education Resources and Symptom Media.

Target Audience

Nurses, general practice physicians, psychiatrists, psychologists, social workers and marriage and family therapists, substance abuse counselors, allied health professionals, and students and trainees of these disciplines.

Underlying Need for this Course

The purpose of this course is to inform medical, nursing, and allied health professionals, including students and trainees, about cannabis use and Cannabis Use Disorder (CUD). Topics include the definition and diagnostic criteria for CUD, epidemiological statistics in the US, the pharmacology of cannabinoids, the short and long-term health effects of cannabis use and exposure, psychiatric comorbidities, and the prognosis and treatments for CUD.

  1. Clinicians may be unaware that cannabis users can experience a significant withdrawal syndrome which has gone unrecognized in the past and which can impact rates of relapse
  2. Research into effective pharmacotherapies is ongoing, and there is evidence for the use of several non-pharmacologic treatments.
  3. Cannabis use among adults is increasing as government and public opinion towards cannabis is becoming more permissive. In the meantime, research is revealing adverse health effects of cannabis use not previously identified that if shared by clinicians, might better inform the patient or public’s opinion.
  4. Over 3% of women consume cannabis products while pregnant. Recent research on health outcomes related to prenatal exposure to cannabis is concerning for possible anemia, restricted fetal growth, problems after birth requiring neonatal intensive care, and deleterious brain changes in these children.

Multiple research studies since 2011 show that cannabis withdrawal is a real phenomenon1, that there is evidence for the effectiveness of non-pharmacological therapies for cannabis use disorder2, that there are more risks and adverse health outcomes associated with cannabis use and cannabis use disorders than previously known3,4, and that pregnant woman should be discouraged from using cannabis during pregnancy until we know more about the risks to the exposed fetus.5,6,7

  • Clinicians need to be informed of the new research KNOWLEDGE on cannabis withdrawal, risks of use, and adverse health events related to its use.
  • Clinicians need to be COMPETENT in advising patients on this new knowledge and how the knowledge impacts the individual being advised
  • Clinicians need to PERFORM the relevant patient education with at-risk patients

Learning Objectives

By the end of this course learners will be able to:

  1. Define Cannabis Use Disorder
  2. Discuss the epidemiology of cannabis use disorder in the United States
  3. Identify the acute and long term effects of cannabis including withdrawal symptoms
  4. Review the pharmacology of cannabis
  5. Verbalize the risk markers and risk factors associated with this disorder
  6. Describe an evidence-based treatment for this disorder
  7. Name two or more therapeutic uses of cannabis

Meet Your Instructor:  Stephanie Arnold is an Adult Psychiatric/Mental Health Clinical Nurse Specialist working as an advance practice nurse in psychiatry. She holds an undergraduate degree in Celtic Studies from UC Berkeley, an MSN from Cal State Los Angeles, and is a doctoral candidate in the University of Alabama’s DNP program.  Stephanie also teaches mental health nursing to graduate and undergraduate students. She is a member of Sigma Theta Tau and Golden Key International Honour Societies. She was inducted into a chapter of the Philanthropic Educational Organization and is an active member serving on the Ways and Means Committee.

Course Agenda

Online course slides with course objectives, a purpose statement, relevant course content, and references are offered alongside video demonstrations of symptoms and behaviors.  Expert commentary is interspersed throughout the course videos to enhance learning and symptom recognition, and subject matter tests are offered to learners in multiple-choice format.

Physician Credit

This activity has been planned and implemented in accordance with the accreditation requirements and policies of the Accreditation Council for Continuing Medical Education (ACCME) through the joint providership of Medical Education Resources (MER) and Symptom Media. MER is accredited by the ACCME to provide continuing medical education for physicians.

Credit Designation
Medical Education Resources designates this enduring material for a maximum of 1.5 AMA PRA Category 1 Credit(s)™. Physicians should claim only the credit commensurate with the extent of their participation in the activity.

Nursing Credit
Medical Education Resources is accredited as a provider of continuing nursing education by the American Nurses Credentialing Center’s Commission on Accreditation.

This CE activity provides 1.5 contact hours of continuing nursing education.

Medical Education Resources is a provider of continuing nursing education by the California Board of Registered Nursing, Provider #CEP 12299, for 1.5 contact hours.

Disclosure of Conflicts of Interest
Medical Education Resources ensures balance, independence, objectivity, and scientific rigor in all our educational programs. In accordance with this policy, MER identifies conflicts of interest with its instructors, content managers, and other individuals who are in a position to control the content of an activity. Conflicts are resolved by MER to ensure that all scientific research referred to, reported, or used in a continuing education activity conforms to the generally accepted standards of experimental design, data collection, and analysis. MER is committed to providing its learners with high-quality activities that promote improvements or quality in health care and not the business interest of a commercial interest.

The faculty reported the following financial relationships with commercial interests whose products or services may be mentioned in this activity:

cannabis use disorder

The content managers reported the following financial relationships with commercial interests whose products or services may be mentioned in this activity:

cannabis use disorder

Method of Participation
There are no fees for participating in and receiving credit for this activity (or insert fee amount if applicable). During the period July, 2020 through July, 2022, participants must 1) read the learning objectives and faculty disclosures, 2) study the educational activity, 3) complete the posttest by recording the best answer to each question, 4) complete the evaluation.

A statement of credit will be issued only upon receipt of a completed activity evaluation form and a completed posttest with a score of 70% or better.


  1. Hasin, D. S. (2018). US epidemiology of cannabis use and associated problems. Neuropsychopharmacology43(1), 195-212.
  2. Mouhamed, Y., Vishnyakov, A., Qorri, B., Sambi, M., Frank, S. S., Nowierski, C., Lamba, A., Bhatti, U., & Szewczuk, M. R. (2018). Therapeutic potential of medicinal marijuana: an educational primer for health care professionals. Drug, healthcare and patient safety, 10, 45–66. https://doi.org/10.2147/DHPS.S158592
  3. Richter, L., Pugh, B. S., & Ball, S. A. (2017). Assessing the risk of marijuana use disorder among adolescents and adults who use marijuana. The American journal of drug and alcohol abuse, 43(3), 247-260.
  4. Weiss, S. R. B., Blanco, C., & Wargo, E. M. (2017). Clarifying the link between cannabis use and risk for psychosis. Acta Psychiatrica Scandinavica136(1), 3-4.
  5. Gunn, J. K., Rosales, C. B., Center, K. E., Nuñez, A., Gibson, S. J., Christ, C., and et al. (2016). Prenatal exposure to cannabis and maternal and child health outcomes: a systematic review and meta-analysis. BMJ Open6:e009986. doi: 10.1136/bmjopen-2015-009986
  6. Wu, C. S., Jew, C. P., & Lu, H. C. (2011). Lasting impacts of prenatal cannabis exposure and the role of endogenous cannabinoids in the developing brain. Future neurology6(4), 459-480.
  7. Hasin, D. S., Kerridge, B. T., Saha, T. D., Huang, B., Pickering, R., Smith, S. M., … & Grant, B. F. (2016). Prevalence and correlates of DSM-5 cannabis use disorder, 2012-2013: Findings from the National Epidemiologic Survey on Alcohol and Related Conditions–III. American Journal of Psychiatry173(6), 588-599.


The content and views presented in this educational activity are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect those of Medical Education Resources and/or Symptom Media. The authors have disclosed if there is any discussion of published and/or investigational uses of agents that are not indicated by the FDA in their presentations. Before prescribing any medicine, primary references and full prescribing information should be consulted. Any procedures, medications, or other courses of diagnosis or treatment discussed or suggested in this activity should not be used by clinicians without evaluation of their patient’s conditions and possible contraindications on dangers in use, review of any applicable manufacturer’s product information, and comparison with recommendations of other authorities. The information presented in this activity is not meant to serve as a guideline for patient management.

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