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Answering your questions about prescribing controlled drugs and substances
​​Have a question about prescribing controlled drugs and substances? Email us at

 Education requirements

What mandatory courses do I have to take?

​NPs who want to prescribe CDS need to take one of three specified CDS prescribing courses. These courses and other requirements are outlined in the Scope of Practice for NPs (pages 26-27).

NPs will also need to complete the CRNBC CDS prescribing learning module. ​

In addition, NPs wanting to prescribe for clients with chronic non-cancer pain require additional education.

NPs wanting to continuation prescribe buprenorphine-naloxone for opioid subsitution therapy must complete additional education. See D. Opioid Agonist Therapy | Continuation Prescribing of Buprenorphine-Naloxone in the NP Scope document.

What's included in the CRNBC CDS Prescribing learning module?
The module complements the required CDS Prescribing course. It focuses on provincial and other relevant legislation and requirements such as the CRNBC Standards, Limits and Conditions for CDS Prescribing and Controlled Prescription Program. It includes information about the risks and best mitigation strategies associated with prescribing CDS, links to useful resources and reflective learning activities.
Do I need to send my certificate to CRNBC when I complete my CDS prescribing course?
No, you don't need to send your certificate to CRNBC. However, we recommend that you retain your certificate as a record of your professional development.

 Standards, limits and conditions

Are NPs able to prescribe all narcotics and controlled substances?

Federal legislation excludes some drugs, such as coca and opium, from NP prescribing authority. Federal legislation limits other drugs such as amphetamine, benzphetamine, methamphetamine, phenmetrazine, and phendimetrazine, to the treatment of specific situation that require initial diagnosis and treatment by a medical specialist.

The CRNBC prescribing standards, limits and conditions, limit other drugs or restrict them to ‘continuation prescribing’. These include:

  • archaic drugs where safer alternatives exist (e.g., barbiturates, meperidine)
  • drugs used to treat a disease or disorder that requires initial diagnosis and treatment by a medical specialist, e.g., methylphenidate, dextroamphetamine
  • drugs considered particularly high risk, e.g., ketamine hydrochloride, sodium oxybate)
Can NPs prescribe synthetic cannabinoids, e.g., Nabilone ®?

NPs in BC are not allowed to prescribe synthetic cannabinoids at this time. See CRNBC limits in the NP prescribing standards (beginning on page 26). For more information on this or other scope of practice matters, contact

Can NPs issue a medical document for clients to get medical marijuana?

​No. NPs are not allowed to issue these medical documents in BC. Federal laws have changed to allow individuals to legally possess dried leaf marijuana if it was obtained, under the Access to Cannabis for Medical Purposes regulation from a licensed producer, with a supporting medical document from an authorized health care practitioner (either a physician or nurse practitioner). However, these changes for NPs have not been adopted by the provincial government in BC and are not included in the scope of practice of NPs at this time.​

Refer to Legislation Relevant to Nurses' Practice for more information about medical cannabis.

Can NPs prescribe opioid agonist therapies?

CRNBC is using a phased approach to introduce opioid agonist therapy prescribing.

As of Jan. 6, 2017, NPs can continuation prescribe buprenorphine-naloxone. See D. Opioid Agonist Therapy | Continuation Prescribing of Buprenorphine-Naloxone in the NP Scope document. 

CRNBC is working with the Ministry of Health, the College of Physicians and Surgeons of BC and the College of Pharmacists of BC to introduce additional opioid agonist therapy prescribing, including methadone and buprenorphine-naloxone induction.

How will NP narcotic prescribing be monitored?
Public safety is central to our mandate and establishing processes for reviewing and acting on unsafe CDS prescribing practices is foundational to our approach. We're working closely with the College of Physicians and Surgeons of BC and the Ministry of Health to learn about and establish best practice policies and operational processes. We'll share our prescription review framework once it's complete.
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