Safe Management and Dispensing of Medical Cannabis

Michael Nashat, PharmD, Pharmacist, discusses how medical cannabis needs to be safely administered to patients looking for an alternative second line therapy for debilitating chronic conditions.

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Michael Nashat, PharmD, Pharmacist, discusses how medical cannabis needs to be safely administered to patients looking for an alternative second line therapy for debilitating chronic conditions.
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Video transcript

Featuring Michael Nashat, PharmD, Pharmacist

Duration: 3 minutes, 19 seconds

The perception of cannabis has shifted over time since its legalization for medicinal purposes, on its way for legalization for recreational use. Pharmacists are seeing a lot more patients on medical cannabis and they are seeing the intended effects and the adverse effects associated with it.

The cannabis plant has many types of cannabinoids in it. Some of those cannabinoids can be THC, CBD, there’s also other cannabinoids in the cannabis plants. There’s terpenes that exist there as well. The patients who choose to take cannabis as a therapy need to make sure that they are choosing the right product for them.

Some plants that have higher THC or higher CBD can be used differently, depending on the right patient, depending on the condition, and depending on the method of ingestion. It’s very important that patients talk to their health care professional, to ensure that when they’re choosing cannabis as a therapy, that the cannabis that they’re choosing meets the needs of their health condition.

And they also need to ensure that if they’re using dry product or an oil product that the health care professional helps them choose the right product that meets their ingestion needs and meets their dosage needs in order to get the most out of their medicine.

Like any other medicine, cannabis can have unintended consequences and it can have side effects. It’s very important that the physicians work with the patient, consider what therapies they’re on that are non-cannabis, so medicines, consider the patient’s health conditions, their age and other factors associated with it, and considering all these factors it will help the physicians, the educators, and the nurses and pharmacists be able to determine the right therapy for the right patient at the right dose. That’s the best way to manage it.

There’s limited clinical trial evidence associated with cannabis. There’s a lot of other first-treatment therapies that we use and cannabis should not be a first-line treatment therapy for any condition, because they haven’t had the evidence so far. We need to consider cannabis as a treatment option, but not as a first-line evidence of therapy.

Contrary to popular belief, medical cannabis does not need a DIN number to be covered by medical insurance. Medical insurance companies cover other products that don’t have DIN numbers. Those include natural health products, homeopathic products, medical devices, even light therapy is covered under medical insurance.

DIN numbers are a standardization of giving numbers to specific products. Cannabis needs standardization, but it doesn’t have to be the DIN number path. It can have its own path, and it can make sense for the insurers in its own way.

There’s an opioid crisis facing us, and we need to ensure that there are different options available for patients. While cannabis is not a magic bullet, we are seeing physicians prescribe fentanyl, morphine, and other opioids that are high risk drugs. We need to understand better how to prescribe cannabis, how to use it in our patients, and how we can balance the therapeutic effects for patients to make sure that they have optimal patient pain control while ensuring that we minimize the risks.

To get more information about medical cannabis, make sure you reach out to your local health care professional or your local pharmacist to learn more.

Presenter: Mr. Michael Nashat, Pharmacist, Mississauga, ON

Local Practitioners: Pharmacist

This content is for informational purposes only, and is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare professional with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.