Now that 30 U.S. states and the District of Columbia have passed laws that make some form of marijuana legal, the question becomes how to get the drug into the hands of people who need it for medical reasons. Medical marijuana is legal in a majority of states, although the rules vary with the type and amount of cannabis that a person can buy as well as the allowable medical conditions. One area of contention with these new laws is how licensed pharmacists view legalized marijuana.

How Some Pharmacists are Participating in Legalized Marijuana

In 2012, Connecticut became the first state in the nation to require a medical marijuana dispensary to have a registered pharmacist on site. Four more states followed suit – Arkansas, New York, Minnesota, and Pennsylvania. The laws in each state vary regarding the requirements for who must be on site as well as who can prescribe medical marijuana and for what conditions. In Connecticut, a patient must see a physician or an advanced practice registered nurse in the state, have at least one qualifying condition, and then get a medical marijuana card. The medical provider must have an active DEA number as well as an active registration with the state’s Prescription Monitoring Program. While some states, Connecticut included, require the participation of licensed pharmacists in the program, these professionals have their own concerns about legalized marijuana.

Concerns Among Licensed Pharmacists Related to Legalized Marijuana

There are several legal issues related to cannabis that any licensed pharmacist needs to understand. Despite marijuana being legal in a majority of U.S. states, it remains an illegal substance at the federal level. While unlikely, there is always the chance that the DEA decides it is time for a raid, which would not help the career prospects of otherwise law-abiding pharmacy professionals. Also, there is a lack of standardized laws between states and even between some communities, which makes staying on top of labeling, dosage, and other rules a challenge. Many advances in medicine and pharmaceuticals are based on studies and various research programs. Because marijuana remains a Schedule I drug, federal law prohibits many of the studies that would give healthcare professionals the data they need to know what medicines are working as well as to develop other solutions. Not all pharmacists are in favor of legalizing marijuana. Some favor de-legalization of the drug due to the alleged increased costs associated with injuries, loss of work, treatment, and property damage. According to one pharmacist’s opinion, legal recreational pot use will only lead to harmful neurologic effects and long-term mental problems. There is also the question of whether or not marijuana is addictive, which is a controversial issue. In reality, research shows that approximately 30 percent of those who use marijuana on a regular basis become addicted to the drug. Fortunately, there is marijuana addiction treatment help available.
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Pharmacists and Legalized Marijuana: An Uneasy Relationship
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