The subject of medical cannabis and the potential role of the community pharmacy continues to garner great attention across the country at pharmacy conferences. Add to that the recent legalization and sale of cannabis in government stores set to begin during the summer in Ontario and the varying legal standings across the other provincial jurisdictions, and you have an even blurrier landscape.
On May 6, 2018, the team at Whole Health Pharmacy, led by Dean Miller, put together a day of cannabis education for their pharmacy owners designed to bring some clarity to the current situation. The Whole Health Pharmacy Cannabis Learning Program included a tour of one of the world’s largest legal cannabis farms, Tweed Farms in Niagara on-the-Lake, and an afternoon of informational sessions conducted by a leading cannabinoid medicine physician and an innovative pharmacist with a review of potential business opportunities for retail pharmacy.
The Tweed Farms facility is one of several farms operated by Canopy Growth in Canada and is in the process of an expansion that will bring their greenhouse footprint to approximately 1 million square feet. In 2014 Canopy Growth became the first cannabis company in North America to be publicly traded and is now the only cannabis company to be traded on the New York Stock Exchange.
After the tour of the Tweed Farms facility, the Whole Health contingent retreated to a local hotel for an afternoon of lecture, discussion and workshop time, led by Dr. Danial Schecter, the co-founder and medical director of the Canadian Cannabinoid Medical Clinic (CMClinic).
Some of the key learnings from Dr. Schecter’s presentation were: 1) a patient-centric approach is needed as it is important to tailor the cannabis therapy to the needs of the patient; 2) start low and go slow in dosing; 3) it is crucial to counsel patients on important elements of cannabis use; 4) pharmacists are likely to have an increasing role in the management of cannabis therapy for patients.
The day concluded with Jen Baker, Whole Health’s Director of Pharmacy Excellence, providing a business overview and practical tips for pharmacists with respect to current laws, anticipated legal changes, potential patient support services to patients, working with physicians, current products on the market and the variety of delivery systems available.
There seems to be excellent potential here for a role here for pharmacists in the medication management and counseling of patients, referrals, pharmaceutical opinions on dosing etc.…even if the role doesn’t involve distributing the product at all.