How can The Clinic Network Help Pharmacists?

Cannabis as a medication is a new area of interest to pharmacists. As far as distribution, dosing and managing the therapy, there is an obvious lack of academic fundamentals and real-world experience. As cannabis’ reputation continues to shift from the persona of an illicit drug to a therapeutic one, pharmacists need to become cognizant of the nuances of cannabis in order to advise patients on its use.

One of the best resources for pharmacists to gain this education is by taking advantage of the courses offered by The Clinic Network, as well as interacting with our educators, nurse practitioners and physicians. The Clinic Network (The Clinic Network) offers online training, education and support to medical professionals. The Clinic Network has developed sophisticated learning tools to expand the knowledge of medicinal cannabis and to develop the best practices for prescribing, ingestion, reporting and regulatory compliance.

Pharmacy distribution of cannabis was part of the original draft of the 2014 medicinal cannabis regulations, before the Canadian Pharmacy Association (CPhA) successfully lobbied to have it removed. In 2017, the CPhA reconsidered their position and has petitioned the federal government to include pharmacists in the logistics of medicinal cannabis distribution. This change reflects the rapidly evolving medicinal cannabis market that has gained legitimacy as a mainstream therapy; as well as acknowledging the economic opportunity that medicinal cannabis represents.

As of October 17, 2018, Canada has both medical and recreational cannabis markets, and the argument for providing a retail environment for medical patients continues to gain momentum. Many patients may not be comfortable having conversations about cannabis as an alternative therapy with their health care provider and as a result will turn to specialty cannabis clinics and/or their local pharmacist. Increasingly, many of the 40,000 pharmacists in Canada are suggesting to all levels of government that they represent one of the best methods of dispensing cannabis for medical purposes. A Pharmacist’s expertise in understanding drug interactions, patient history, adverse effects, formulations and dispensing specific dosages are generally the primary reasons cited; as well as their experience working in a highly regulated environment.

Yet, because pharmacists (like other health care providers) are not taught the fundamentals of cannabis, they lack the essential core knowledge required to converse about and prescribe a very complicated plant and product. Furthermore, most have little knowledge of the consequences of ingestion types, CBD/THC ratios, current regulations, new product development, product availability, and pricing options. The Clinic Network has prescribed to over 3,000 patients, and can provide the course content as well as the experience and support.