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The Ontario College of Pharmacists has informed its members that they must complete a mandatory cannabis education course to continue practicing in the province. The regulatory body began offering a cannabis education class online last month and will require pharmacists to complete an accredited course by March 27, 2020.
The College of Pharmacists class covers the benefits, risks, and side effects of cannabis and explores a pharmacist’s legal, ethical, and professional responsibilities involved in its use by patients. Although pharmacists do not dispense cannabis, regulators believe that they will be likely to encounter consumers curious about medicinal uses or risks of using marijuana products.
In June of last year, the college released A Cannabis Strategy for Pharmacy: Enhancing Knowledge, Protecting Patients consisting of four priorities to serve and maintain the public interest. The priorities include developing and maintaining competency in cannabis, providing patient care, health information and advice, documenting, developing and tracking data, and preventing harm.
“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 wrote in a brief sent to The Canadian Press.
Canada legalized the recreational use of cannabis last year with the passage of Bill C-45 by Parliament and legal sales of marijuana flower have already begun. The College of Pharmacists expects its members will be fielding even more questions about cannabis including the potential for reactions with other medications once legal edible products and concentrates hit the market later this year.
“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,” the brief added.
On its website, the Ontario College of Pharmacists explained why cannabis education was being mandated for its members.
“The legalization of recreational cannabis is an extraordinary public policy shift that has a significant impact on the health and safety of Canadians and increases the potential for more open use among the public and pharmacy patients,” the college wrote. “As medication experts, pharmacists are in a unique position to support quality and effective patient care for those who are using cannabis, for recreational or medical purposes, along with other medications that they may be taking.”
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