Ontario has become the first province in Canada to require its pharmacists to take a cannabis course. Pharmacists, therefore, have a little less than a year to study all about marijuana if they want to continue practicing in Ontario.
The Ontario College of Pharmacists made cannabis education mandatory. They have told members that they have until March 27, 2020, to complete an accredited course. This accredited course on cannabis could help pharmacists address the blurry landscape of patient information.
The mandatory cannabis education came in the wake of recreational cannabis legalization in the province and in anticipation of the legalization of cannabis-infused edibles this fall.
It was just last month when the Ontario Pharmacists Association launched the first of these cannabis courses. The course covers the ethical, professional, and legal responsibilities of pharmacists where medical cannabis is concerned. This course also tackles cannabis benefits, risks, common sides effects, and dosage forms.
While pharmacists are not really the ones who dispense cannabis, patients who are new to the drug or are still trying to decide on a medical cannabis treatment often ask them for health advice. Many patients seek reliable information on how cannabis could interact with their other medications.
According to the College, as medication experts whom patients often consider the most accessible health care provider, pharmacists play an important role in educating patients. Because of this, pharmacy professionals need to be equipped with the necessary knowledge of cannabis.
Moreover, as the availability of adult-use pot expands, pharmacists need to consider that any patient may have to be informed on the interaction of marijuana with other medications.
How about other provinces?
While Ontario is taking this move, regulatory bodies in other provinces have decided on a more hands-off approach.
Quebec’s regulatory body, for one, noted that many of their pharmacists are voluntarily taking private courses to learn about cannabis.
According to New Brunswick’s college registrar, Sam Lanctin, they expect their pharmacists to have a basic understanding of cannabis use, just like they already do for tobacco and alcohol use.
Meanwhile, the College of Pharmacists of British Columbia said that their pharmacists are bound by a code of ethics, which requires them to practice only within the scope of their training, education, and competence.