By Jen Baker
New data commissioned by the Ontario Pharmacists Association (OPA) shows Ontarians overwhelmingly support pharmacists dispensing medicinal cannabis.
More than seven in 10 Ontario adults agree that patients should be able to obtain medicinal cannabis from pharmacists. What’s more, a clear majority of Ontario adults – 56 per cent – prefer having medicinal cannabis dispensed at pharmacies, rather than providing for other access points.
However, what Ontarians want is a far cry from what our current system offers.
Unlike prescriptions for other medications, patients cannot access medicinal cannabis products at their local pharmacy. For Ontario’s patients and the broader health-care system, omitting pharmacists is a missed opportunity and a potential safety risk.
Pharmacies are secure health centres that can monitor usage in real-time; they can store and handle sensitive products and controlled substances, such as medicinal cannabis.
Most importantly, however, as the medication expert on a patient’s health-care team, pharmacists understand the impact of introducing medicinal cannabis onto the patient’s existing medication profile.
Ontarians agree. When asked, three-quarters of Ontario adults say patients should be able to obtain medicinal cannabis from a pharmacist – like they do with all prescription products – so that they have increased access to the advice, guidance and information they want and need.
Ontario’s patients rely on their pharmacists to educate them on how medications can potentially interact with each other. Pharmacists have access to a patient’s full medication history, know their allergies and serve as a patient’s last line of defence against harmful drug-to-drug interactions.
On this front, educating patients about potential interactions between medicinal cannabis and other medications should be a leading public policy objective.
In the face of increasing access to recreational cannabis, some may be left wondering about steps needed to move toward safer, more patient-focused regulations for