Have you ever gone to the pharmacy to pick up a routine prescription and talked to the pharmacist about CBD during your consult? Did you catch them off guard? Was it uncomfortable? Did your questions receive quality answers? For some, this may be what they experienced leaving them with many questions as they walked out of the pharmacy door. According to “Drug Topics, Voice of the Pharmacist“, most pharmacists are considered to be moderately to not at all comfortable answering questions surrounding cannabis. This needs to change.
When it comes to talking cannabinoids, some pharmacists find themselves to be on shaky ground. Jeffrey Stewart, RPh, cofounder and managing partner of Pharmtrue says ” 78% of pharmacists are uncomfortable answering patient questions about CBD, and 76% didn’t know that CBD is just an abbreviation for cannabidiol” (Drug Topics). Why? Why is this a thing? Why is cannabis such a hard thing to talk about for some? Stewart mentioned that when he dove into the cannabis industry 3 years ago he quickly discovered that his education had failed to prepare him for questions surrounding cannabis. When he went searching for quality resources, he came up short. “It took years navigating the cannabis industry and countless hours on PubMed, sifting through case reports, case series, looking at the interactions, for me to get to the point where I felt comfortable enough to discuss [cannabis use] with my patients,” Stewart said. Not wanting that research to go to waste, Stewart applied his newfound knowledge to Pharmtrue, which has now coached 500 pharmacists, pharmacy technicians, students, and pharmacy staff on effective, approachable methods that can be used to discussing cannabis use with patients—all in less than 6 months” (Drug Topics).
From their education, Pharmacists are already equipped with the fundamental knowledge of the endocannabinoid system, including the 3 main classifications of cannabinoids; phytocannabinoids, endocannabinoids, and synthetic cannabinoids. As we have mentioned before, cannabinoids interact with the body through CB1 and CB2 receptors. CB1 receptors are located along presynaptic neurons in the brain, spinal cord, and peripheral nervous system. CB2 receptors are primarily located in immune cells and tissues. Therefore, pharmacists have knowledge surrounding how cannabis effects the human body and should be comfortable answering a few questions, to an extent of what is being asked. Any specific questions regarding CBD as treatment needs to be discussed with the patient’s primary doctor.
“As health care providers, we believe that we have to be ready to answer all those questions that we’re sure to get,” Stewart said. “We’re in the perfect position to help out patients, and we’re also in the perfect position to hurt them” (Drug Topics). As we enter 2022 and cannabis is becoming more and more popular, let’s get the conversation to a more comfortable place, even in the pharmacy.