Pharmacists in Ontario will have to take a mandatory cannabis education course this year in order to continue practicing in the province.
The Ontario College of Pharmacists has told members that the course must be completed by March 27, 2020.
Even though medical cannabis has been legal in Canada since 2001, the mandatory course follows recreational legalization as more people are coming to doctors and pharmacists with questions about cannabis use. With edible cannabis to be legal sometime this year, the College wants to ensure that patients are getting the right information from their pharmacists.
“As medication experts who are often the most accessible healthcare provider for patients, pharmacy professionals play an important role in educating their patients if equipped with the necessary knowledge,” the college wrote in a statement.
“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.”
Michael Beazely, an associate professor at the University of Waterloo, helped to put the new course together. He said that there is a lot of frustration from pharmacists who don’t have access to concrete information about cannabis use.
Beazely said that the course looks at similarities and differences between medical and recreational cannabis products. He also said that pharmacists should ideally know all about a patient’s drug use whether it is the vitamins they take, the legal prescription drugs they use and any other drugs, legal or illegal. He said that it’s likely this same kind of education will be making its way to university courses soon.
“Just because it’s an interest of mine I’ve been increasing out content quite a lot,” said Beazely. “And now that the Ontario College of Pharmacists has mandated required cannabis training we’re actually going to embed that into our curriculum so that our grads will graduate with that box checked.”