Article by Cassandra Szklarski, CTV News
Ontario pharmacists have a little less than a year to get up to speed on weed if they want to practice in the province.
The Ontario College of Pharmacists has made cannabis education mandatory in the wake of legalization and in anticipation of legal edibles set to arrive this fall.
The regulatory body has told its members they have until March 27, 2020 to complete an accredited course that could help them address what has been a hazy landscape when it comes to patient information.
The Ontario Pharmacists Association launched the first of such courses last month, covering a pharmacist’s ethical, legal and professional responsibilities when it comes to pot. The course also details the benefits and risks of cannabis, dosage forms and common side effects.
Although pharmacists do not dispense cannabis, they are sometimes asked for health advice by patients who are becoming more open about using weed.
A statement from the college acknowledges that many patients want reliable information on how cannabis interacts with their medications. But while much is known about health effects of alcohol use, for instance, information about recreational pot is far less understood and available, notes the college.
The move makes Ontario the only province to require pharmacists to complete a cannabis course.
“As medication experts who are often the most accessible health-care provider for patients, pharmacy professionals play an important role in educating their patients if equipped with the necessary knowledge,” the college says in a backgrounder emailed to The Canadian Press.
“As the availability of recreational cannabis expands, pharmacists will have to consider that any patient may need to be informed on the interaction of cannabis with other medications, much like they do for alcohol use.”
Regulatory bodies in other provinces have taken a more hands-off approach.