Canada – New Medical Marijuana Regulations Should Allow Pharmacist Dispensing


Health Minister Jane Philpott has a golden opportunity later this month to improve access and safety for medical marijuana patients and Canadian pharmacists hope she will take it. By amending the Marihuana for Medical Purposes Regulations (MMPR) to allow pharmacists to dispense medical marijuana, Canadians would have a safe, reliable and convenient alternative to mail-order service, in compliance with the Federal Court’s access requirements set out in Allard v. Canada.

A pharmacy-based distribution system would immediately provide another option for Canadians to access medical marijuana, alongside the existing system of licensed producers who provide their product to patients through the mail. CPhA’s proposed changes to the MMPR would authorize pharmacists to obtain medical marijuana from a licensed producer and dispense it to an individual with a medical document.

Pharmacists have the necessary expertise to mitigate the potential risks associated with medical marijuana, including harmful drug interactions, contraindications, and potential addictive behaviour. A simple regulatory amendment would empower Canadian patients to access the product in urban, rural and remote locations across Canada, under the supervision of a licensed health care professional, through an established distribution system proven to protect patient and public safety.

Medical and recreational marijuana are fundamentally different products, intended for use in very different ways. When Canada makes recreational marijuana legal next year, it will be critical to have a safe and secure distribution system for medical marijuana already in place. By amending the regulations immediately, a sophisticated pharmacy distribution system equipped to handle narcotics and controlled substances will help limit the emergence of a grey market and protect the medical system against abuse by recreational users. This is an important lesson learned from US states where medical and recreational marijuana streams coexist; a fact which has been recognized by the federal government’s Task Force on Marihuana Legalization and Regulation, and public health experts like the Canadian Centre on Substance Abuse.

In Israel and Germany, regulators have already recognized the benefits of pharmacist involvement in the management and distribution of medical marijuana. Canadian licensed producers have demonstrated their capacity to supply pharmacy directly, with Canada’s largest producer announcing recently that it will export medical marijuana for sale to patients in German pharmacies – Canadian patients should have the access to the same pharmacist education and oversight.

Canadians are strongly in favour of pharmacist dispensing of medical marijuana, and an independent assessment by KPMG confirms it is in the best interest of patient access and safety. The federal government has a limited window to bring Canada’s medical marijuana in line with international best practices – the Canadian Pharmacists Association urges the Health Minister to seize this opportunity.

News Moderator: Katelyn Baker
Full Article: New Medical Marijuana Regulations Should Allow Pharmacist Dispensing
Author: Perry Eisenschmid
Photo Credit: Nick Oza
Website: National Newswatch