How many people in a day across the country ask the question at their pharmacy: “Can I talk to the pharmacist?” A ton. ( I don’t really have a real number for you, sorry.) Most of the time pharmacists will have a good answer for you and if they don’t then they usually steer you in the right direction.
Now take a specific occurrence that happens all too often. A patient walks up to the pharmacist window and says, “Hi, I have a question for you about this product” and places a bottle of CBD topical cream on the counter. 95% of the time the pharmacist will say to some extent: “I don’t know much about this product, so I won’t say if it works or if it doesn’t. You will just have to try it and do so carefully.”
(I know I have had my fair share of these conversations prior to becoming a clinical cannabis pharmacist; because this is exactly one of those conversations that I had with a patient.)
Why would we answer like this? Aren’t pharmacists supposed to be the medication expert? We are, but the endocannabinoid system, which is what CBD and THC act upon, is not taught in great detail if at all in our formal education. While speaking of this it’s not just pharmacists who don’t receive this education either. Doctors, Nurse Practitioners, Physician Assistants, Nurses, and several other healthcare providers don’t receive this or get very little information in their formal education.
Traditional Pharmacy education and knowledge focuses on the medications, how they work, what they do in the human body, what disease states that they work for, breakdown of the actual disease states, the preparation of medications and many other clinical duties.
The actual study of the Endocannabinoid System (ECS) is still ongoing and new discoveries about it are constantly being made.
The traditional role of a pharmacist is to be the medication expert! We are involved in the dispensing of medications, patient counseling, vaccinations and other clinical roles in community pharmacy; the preparation of orders, patient and healthcare provider counseling as well as loads of clinical services in hospitals and other facilities.
But now there is a new opportunity for pharmacists to expand their knowledge base and expand onto their roles in a new area of patient care. Cannabis Pharmacy! With additional education and focus on the science of cannabis a pharmacist can bring their expertise to benefit medical cannabis patients!
You may be asking: “Well if a pharmacist is a medication expert, but if there is little information about cannabis and the system it works on how can a pharmacist be helpful?” The answer to that is easy too, but let me ask something in return.
Did you know that in eight states medical marijuana programs have: pharmacists involved in patient consultations and dispensing marijuana products; dispensaries are classified and licensed as a pharmacy; or have that state's Board of Pharmacy involved in oversight.
We bring several benefits and service options to the dispensary table. We can help with concentration and dosage calculations, look for drug interactions, identify appropriate product choices for patients, help with therapy and treatment plan development, answer questions and provide consultations.
So the next time you're visiting your local dispensary, ask your budtender/dispensary agent if they have a pharmacist on board. If they have one I’m sure the pharmacist will be happy to take some time and help you with any medical cannabis questions or concerns that you may have.
So until next time, have a great day!