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CPhA: New medical marijuana guidelines leave pharmacists behind


OTTAWA, Canada — The Canadian government on Thursday announced its new Access to Cannabis for Medical Purposes Regulations, which will take effect on Aug. 24, and according to the Canadian Pharmacists Association, one big change that has popular support was left out. 


The CPhA on Thursday noted its disappointment that the new guidelines do not include a model in which pharmacists oversee dispensing of medical marijuana, though Health Canada did say it was considering a potential model with pharmacy at the center. 


“Pharmacists have the expertise to mitigate potential risks associated with medical marijuana, including harmful drug interactions, contraindications, and potential addictive behavior,” CPhA CEO Perry Eisenschmid said. “Pharmacist management and distribution would improve access for Canadians in urban, rural and remote communities … under the supervision of a licensed health care professional, through an established distribution system proven to protect patient and public safety.”


An Abacus Data poll conducted in February found that 52% of respondents were in favor of a distribution method led by pharmacy. And CPhA acknowledged that there is hope in the future as Canada looks to push for legal access to recreational marijuana, noting that pharmacist-dispensed medical marijuana in a country that also permits recreational marijuana would prevent against abuse of the medical system and the emergence of a grey market. 


"By providing access to marijuana for medical purposes through pharmacy, Health Canada and the Task Force on Marijuana Legalization and Regulation can ensure that Canada is in line with international best practices," Eisenschmid said. "Recognizing that Health Canada is responding directly to the Court's ruling and its deadline, we are encouraged that Health Canada has committed to studying pharmacy distribution as the regulations are evaluated going forward."


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