Canadian Pharmacists Association
Canadian Pharmacists Association

Pharmacists disappointed with proposed cannabis regulations, concerned with impact to medical cannabis patients

November 22, 2017 (Ottawa): The Canadian Pharmacists Association (CPhA) is disappointed that 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.

The focus of all governments in the area of cannabis must be to protect and enhance safety and create policies that clearly differentiate the recreational market from the medical system. CPhA is increasingly concerned that governments are failing in this regard as well as their responsibility to the health and safety of medical cannabis patients.

A notable omission in the proposed current regulatory framework is the failure to integrate pharmacists into the medical cannabis regulations. Pharmacists are best equipped to provide clinical advice to patients and appropriate oversight in the safe management and dispensing of medical cannabis. Pharmacists are highly accessible and can assess patient medication profiles for drug interactions and help prevent, monitor and report side effects to help build a body of evidence.  We need to ensure that patients have access to a system that offers appropriate medical and clinical support at every touchpoint, and which recognizes the specific needs of patients.

The failure to clearly differentiate the recreational market from the medical system is also highlighted by the federal government’s plan to impose an excise duty for cannabis that would apply equally to both recreational and medical cannabis. This course of action does not separate nor recognize the unique needs of medical cannabis patients and further increases the likelihood that these patients will be pushed into the recreational market and be left without the appropriate clinical care and support.

“Canadians requiring medical cannabis as part of their prescribed therapy should have the same rights and expectations of access to their medication and clinical oversight as is the case for all other medications,” says Iris Krawchenko, Senior Pharmacist Advisor, CPhA.  “It’s both unsafe and completely illogical to create a disjointed system where medical cannabis patients are forced to access cannabis from retail outlets or mail order delivery systems that do not have clinical expertise. As health care providers, we cannot support this fragmented delivery of care for Canadians.”

With a looming July 2018 deadline, governments are focused on providing access to the recreational cannabis market with little to no consideration to the supply and access concerns of medical cannabis users, whose primary access point remains a mail delivery system.  Consequently, what we now see evolving is a situation where Canadians who “want” access to cannabis for recreational purposes will soon have better access than those Canadians who “require” cannabis for medical purposes.

About the Canadian Pharmacists Association

The Canadian Pharmacists Association (CPhA) is the uniting national voice of pharmacy and the pharmacist profession in Canada. As pharmacists undertake an enhanced role in the delivery of health care services, CPhA ensures that the profession is recognized as a national leader in health care, influencing the policies, programs, budgets and initiatives affecting the profession and the health of Canadians. More information is available at