Are pharmacists really a good option for dispensing medical marijuana? We’re not certain the pharmacy industry is ready (yet).
In August, Canadian Pharmacists’ Association (CPhA) created a Task Force that issued recommendations asking the government to allow pharmacies to dispense medical marijuana. Just this morning, Shopper’s Drug Mart (with 1,200 locations across Canada), announced it is formally applying for a license to distribute medical marijuana.
Despite the desire to manage a (lucrative) new drug segment, we’re not sure the pharmacy industry will be equipped with training to do so effectively. This lack of guidance has not stopped the Canadian Pharmacists’ Association from making a case on their members’ behalf. In their defense, they (rightly) point out that pharmacies are well-equipped to ensure security, protection of supply chains, proper storage of medication, restricting access, and establishing patient management and proper controls over the distribution and dispensing of medications and controlled substances. Their recommendations stand on less solid ground when dealing with the drug itself: “In addition to providing secure and safe access to medications, pharmacists have the necessary expertise to mitigate the potential risks associated with medical marijuana, including harmful drug interactions, contraindications, and potential addictive behavior.”
But this knowledge of marijuana’s risks, potential drug interactions, and contraindications does not exist. We do recognize that pharmacies may want “in” on the action. But we’re not convinced pharmacies, in general, or pharmacists, in particular, will add real value when compared to other retail options available.
Given this, we’d like feedback from this group: Should pharmacies get involved in dispensing medical marijuana?