JUNE 2019 – In addition to perfecting their putting, attendees at this year’s CFP Charity Golf Classic heard the facts on medical cannabis in the pharmacy to help “clear the smoke” on common misconceptions.
Pharmacist Bev Herczegh, director of the Pangea Group, led the educational session which helped to clarify the “whole legislative piece around cannabis,” specifically as it relates to pharmacy distribution. “I wondered if others, like me, were only getting bits and pieces of information around the legislation and I wanted to provide a good overview,” she says.
Despite media hype, Herczegh says pharmacists won’t be seeing any significant changes in distribution models for a while. “It’s interesting to see so much activity of late, but if we believe what regulators are telling us, we don’t expect any changes to the distribution model for medical cannabis for another five years,” she said. Furthermore, patients are only able to legally access cannabis from licensed producers. “You can order medical cannabis from Shoppers because it is a licensed producer, not because it’s a pharmacy.”
Herczegh says recent mandated cannabis training initiatives from the Ontario College of Pharmacists (OCP) are not a bad idea given that cannabis is a psychoactive agent and presents a significant social change in the country. “People should have guidance on its use especially if used medically,” she says. Generally, OCP does not mandate such education and pharmacists are responsible, as healthcare professionals, for maintaining competence to practice. “But I question why we’re not mandating similar training on opioids given the growing crisis in Canada and its social significance.”
Herczegh says in many cases pharmacists will ultimately be tasked to educate themselves and provide counselling on a drug they can’t distribute. “The bottom line is that cannabis has come to market in an atypical ‘authorization’ process through the courts rather than the drug regulator, and this presents its own challenges,” she says.