Should recreational cannabis retailers be able to use the word dispensary?
Not according to the National Association of Pharmacy Regulatory Authorities (NAPRA), which published a news release regarding Canada’s cannabis act and the role of pharmacists earlier this week.
“NAPRA’s position is that pharmacy practitioners must not be involved in the distribution of cannabis for non-medical purposes,” said the release.
Understandable, given the medical aspect of a pharmacist’s job—but the regulator goes even further, suggesting that both the terminology and branding used by cannabis dispensaries and distributors should be limited.
“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,” reads the release.
It goes on to call for suppliers of cannabis to follow the same federal production practices used by those licensed to grow for the Access to Cannabis For Medical Purposes Regulations (ACMPR) program, “or equivalent quality standards yet to be developed.”
It also appears NAPRA would like to see the advertising and marketing of cannabis restricted by decision makers, “so as not to promote consumption.”
NAPRA relates that cannabis smoke contains “many of the same carcinogenic chemicals found in tobacco smoke”, and as such, says that smoked cannabis products should be subject to the same legislation as tobacco.
While members of NAPRA have not yet come to a conclusion regarding the possibility of dispensing cannabis for medical purposes, they’ve asked the government to consult with them regarding the issue.
The Straight reached out to Vancouver cannabis activist and MMJ Canada government relations director Jamie Shaw to weigh in on NAPRA's statement.
"I think they're about 20 years too late to try to define the vocabulary," said Shaw over the phone. "It's internationally used vocabulary now, so it seems kind of ridiculous to call for that. They've said this before, a year or two ago in an earlier document, and I'm not really sure who they're expecting to change the wording."
Shaw added that NAPRA's comparing of cannabis to tobacco is inaccurate, and while she agrees that recreational cannabis has no place being dispensed at a pharmacy, there needs to be more education for pharmacy practitioners, and for their patients, about using cannabis medically.
"They [pharmacists] need to be trained on the pharmaceutical prepartions of cannabis, whether or not other medications interact with cannabis, and so on, but the idea that a pharmacist needs to oversee recreational cannabis is ridiculous."