The 49th edition of CSHP’s Professional Practice Conference was held at the Beanfield Centre (at Exhibition Place) in Toronto, ON from February 3 - 7, 2018. This annual conference offered hospital pharmacists, from across the country, learning and networking opportunities.

One of the interesting panel discussion was on the role of the pharmacists in the management and dispensing medical marijuana .In the past was hard to imagine a time when professional, licensed pharmacists would be dispensing marijuana products to patients. Seemed a little far-fetched? However,that day is happening now.

As Canada moves toward legalizing marijuana, proposed date July 2018, pharmacies are positioning themselves as a practical outlet for dispensing the drug for medical purposes.

To enhance public and patient safety in the rapidly evolving medical marijuana environment, Canadian Pharmacists Association (CPhA) is recommending that pharmacists play a front-line role in patient management and dispensing of medical marijuana. Such a role is needed to ensure that patients receive timely and appropriate access, education and clinical oversight.

As per CPhA “Pharmacists are the safest and best equipped to provide clinical advice to patients and provide appropriate oversight. Pharmacist involvement in dispensing of medical marijuana would help identify potential problems such as drug interactions, alternative therapies, contraindications and potential addictive behavior, and provide the opportunity for patient counselling on appropriate use as well, pharmacists have an existing infrastructure that is already in place to handle controlled substances and have a secure supply chain to limit diversion.”

Overall it is a relatively safe bet that as pharmacists become more informed about medical marijuana and the industry is able, in turn, to address a pharmacy’s unique concerns, that the retail channel will evolve to be the dominant – if not exclusive – channel for medical marijuana patients.