Mitigating risk and enhancing safety
As medication experts, pharmacists are best equipped to provide clinical advice to patients and appropriate oversight in the safe management and dispensing of medical cannabis.
Pharmacists have the necessary expertise to mitigate the potential risks associated with medical cannabis, including harmful drug interactions, contraindications, and potential addictive behaviour. Pharmacists have an existing infrastructure that is already in place to handle controlled substances and have a secure supply chain to limit diversion.
Pharmacist management and dispensing of medical cannabis is the best option to strengthen any future framework and protect patient and public safety.
Medical and recreational cannabis: A distinction with a difference
Although derived from the same plant, there are important differences between medical and recreational cannabis. For example, medical users may seek out strains and forms to alleviate symptoms while minimizing intoxication (primarily through cannabidiol or CBD), whereas recreational users may primarily be taking cannabis for euphoric effects (i.e. strains with higher THC levels).
Practice Development Resources
Although pharmacists are not dispensing medical cannabis at this time, many Canadians seek out health advice from their pharmacists. It is important for pharmacists to understand how their patients may use and access medical cannabis in order to provide effective medication management. CPhA is developing a suite of resources on medical cannabis to support pharmacists across the country.
- Introduction to Medical Cannabis and Cannabinoids: An overview of the different types of cannabinoids available in Canada, their therapeutic effects, and their impact on human physiology (1.0 CEUs)
- NEW! Medical Cannabis: Applying the Evidence to Practice: Building on concepts outlined in An Introduction to Medical Cannabis and Cannabinoids, this course explores therapeutic indications for which there is substantial moderate quality evidence for the use of cannabis or cannabinoids, including treatment of spasticity, chronic pain, chemotherapy-induced nausea and vomiting (2.0 CEUs)
- NEW! Cannabis for Medical Purposes Evidence Guide: Information for Pharmacists and Other Health Care Professionals
- Medical Cannabis Q&A: Answers to commonly asked questions about medical cannabis.
Reports and Research
Independent research supports pharmacist dispensing
Independent research conducted by KPMG outlines a number of key benefits that could be expected from pharmacist management and dispensing of medical cannabis.
- Learn more: Improving Medical Marijuana Management in Canada (KPMG, March 2016)
What Canadians are saying
Canadians are strongly in favour of pharmacist dispensing of medical cannabis and recognize that it would improve patient safety and oversight.
- Learn more: Medical Marijuana and Pharmacists: A National survey of Canadians on their perceptions and attitudes towards Marijuana (Abacus Data, February 2016)
Cannabis Legalization – Standing Committee on Health (August 2017)
CPhA submitted a brief expressing its views on Bill C-45: An Act respecting cannabis and to amend the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act, the Criminal Code and other Acts. The CPhA submission underscores our existing position that two different streams of cannabis – medical and recreational – must be maintained once cannabis is legalized in 2018.
Task Force on Marijuana Legalization and Regulation (August 2016)
CPhA submitted a brief in response to the issues outlined in the Task Force’s discussion paper ‘Toward the Legalization, Regulation and Restriction of Access to Marijuana’. The submission outlines CPhA’s priorities and recommendations for the legalization and regulation of marijuana, informed by research and consultation.
Other Activities and Statements
Pharmacists disappointed with proposed cannabis regulations, concerned with impact to medical cannabis patients
November 22, 2017 – The federal government’s proposed regulatory approach to cannabis continues to miss the mark on several key issues, displaying an ongoing lack of concern for medical cannabis patients.
CPhA launches medical cannabis resources to support pharmacists, enhance patient care
November 15, 2017 – CPhA launched its first medical cannabis continuing education program to help pharmacists across Canada respond to the evolving health care needs of their patients.
CPhA disappointed medical cannabis regime does not enhance patient safety
April 13, 2017 – While CPhA is pleased that today’s federal legislation maintains a separate stream for medical cannabis, we are concerned and disappointed that the legislation fails to enhance patient safety by providing appropriate clinical oversight in the management and dispensing of medical cannabis in Canada.
Canadian pharmacists pleased Marijuana Task Force recommends continued access to medical cannabis
December 13, 2016 – CPhA welcomes the Task Force's report and strongly supports the recommendation to maintain a separate medical cannabis regime.
Canadian pharmacists urge Task Force on Marijuana Legalization and Regulation to maintain distinct medical cannabis stream
September 14, 2016 – In its submission to the Task Force on Marijuana Legalization and Regulation, CPhA is recommending that separate streams for medical and recreational marijuana be established once recreational marijuana becomes legal.
Pharmacists disappointed new medical marijuana regulations miss the mark on patient safety
August 11, 2016 – CPhA expressed its disappointment that new medical marijuana regulations miss an important opportunity to improve patient access and safety through pharmacist management and dispensing of medical marijuana.
New medical marijuana regulations should allow pharmacist dispensing
August 1, 2016 – Hill Times Op-ed from CPhA CEO Perry Eisenschmid.
CPhA looks forward to working with new marijuana task force to ensure appropriate health care oversight in place
June 30, 2016 – To ensure the health and safety of Canadians in the rapidly evolving marijuana environment, CPhA looks forward to working with the Task Force on Marijuana Legalization and Regulation, announced today by the Government of Canada.
Why pharmacists should be dispensing medical marijuana
May 23, 2016 – Globe and Mail Op-ed from CPhA’s Director of Professional Affairs Phil Emberley.
CPhA Calls for Pharmacists' Role in the Management and Dispensing of Medical Marijuana
April 7, 2016 – To enhance public and patient safety in the rapidly evolving medical marijuana environment, CPhA is recommending that pharmacists play a front-line role in patient management and dispensing of medical marijuana.