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ACP Council takes stance on distribution of non-medical cannabis

May 10, 2017

On April 13, 2017, the federal government introduced legislation to legalize and control the production, distribution, sale, and possession of non-medical cannabis across Canada. The current regulations for accessing cannabis for medical purposes (See Council update article for ACP’s current policy) will continue under the new Act, which is expected to be adopted by July of next year.

At its April 27-28 meeting, ACP Council passed a motion to support policies that prohibit the sale of cannabis for recreational use from pharmacies.

“There isn’t a clinical indication for the use of recreational cannabis,” said Taciana Pereira, ACP Council President. “There are social reasons for using recreational cannabis. Like alcohol or tobacco, which aren’t available in pharmacies, there is no expected health outcome for recreational cannabis. There are other distribution sites that make more sense when it comes to the control and sale of recreational marijuana products than having them in available in pharmacies.”

“Would having recreational cannabis available in a pharmacy imply a health benefit?” Taciana asked. “We want to make sure there is a clear distinction between a recreational product and a medical product.”

Council pointed out that pharmacists have been at the forefront of smoking cessation, helping patients to quit using tobacco. Cannabis smoke contains many of the same carcinogenic chemicals found in tobacco smoke.Council had discussion that smoked cannabis products should be subject to the same provincial or territorial legislation as smoked tobacco products.

Further, Council is concerned about the public health implications of cannabis when used recreationally, particularly amongst individuals younger than 25. There is strong evidence that cannabis use can impact brain development.

Council also passed a motion recommending that distribution sites for non-medical cannabis must not be permitted to use terms such as “dispensary” or pharmacy-related symbols such as a green cross, which may lead the public to believe that the distribution site is a pharmacy or that it has professional oversight from pharmacy practitioners.

Taciana said that Council wants to be up front about its stance on non-medical cannabis and be proactive, not reactive, on the issue of medical cannabis.

“We want to be really clear on the principles that are important to us,” she said. “If we do that in a proactive way, we can prepare where there may be gaps when the legislation comes out or be able to connect with government or other stakeholders about the things we think are important.”

Watch for more coverage in future editions of the Link as policy about this issue evolves.