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ACP contributes to provincial cannabis legislation

June 13, 2018
Alberta’s Minister of Justice incorporates ACP’s input to create legislation restricting how cannabis retailers brand themselves.

To prepare for the legalization of cannabis for recreational use, Alberta’s Minister of Justice and Solicitor General, Kathleen Ganley, has announced legislation that creates several restrictions on retailers of cannabis for recreational use (read the Alberta Government news release). The legislation passed third reading in the legislature on May 30, 2018 and received Royal Assent on June 11, 2018.

Among the restrictions in Bill 6 (the Gaming and Liquor Statutes Amendment Act) is prohibiting cannabis retailers from using business names and signage that includes any term commonly associated with medicine, health, or pharmaceuticals, such as pharmacy, dispensary, apothecary, drug store, medicine, medicinal, health, therapeutic or clinic. Further, any symbol or graphic commonly associated with these terms (such as a green cross) will be prohibited.

The Minister included these restrictions in the legislation after hearing concerns brought forward by the Alberta College of Pharmacists (ACP) Council.

“It was very encouraging,” said Monty Stanowich, ACP’s Compliance Officer. “The Minister’s staff seemed very positive in the initial discussions. They took what we said seriously and took it to heart. They believed it was in the best interest of Albertans.”

Monty believes the restrictions are important, as the use of medical terms or symbols in cannabis retailers’ branding could mislead the public into believing these stores are affiliated with or have oversight from healthcare professionals.

“Those who will be selling cannabis for recreational use are not qualified to comment on people’s diseases or health issues,” said Monty. “If consumers have questions about using cannabis for their medical conditions, they shouldn’t seek advice from people who are not healthcare professionals.”

ACP encourages pharmacists to talk to their patients about cannabis use and the potential risks associated with it, particularly once cannabis for recreational use becomes legalized. ACP will provide more advice about cannabis to pharmacy professionals in the months ahead.

“Once it’s legal, patients may be more willing to speak about it,” said Monty. “There are potential drug interactions with cannabis. And, like tobacco and alcohol, there are health concerns associated with using cannabis that patients should be aware of. Pharmacists are well positioned to address those concerns.”

In the meantime, the provincial legislation is seen as a positive step.

“It eliminates a lot of potential confusion that could have happened,” said Monty. “It will make everyone’s job a little easier and the public a little safer.”