Medical marijuana is certainly in the news a lot these days. Yet many pharmacists and entrepreneurs are asking a very significant question: How does medical marijuana and cannabis relate to pharmacies? Many point out that the medical marijuana is being used as a treatment for several medical conditions and should therefor be dispensed by pharmacies and its use overseen by a healthcare professional such as a pharmacist. Whatever our personal views are on this issue, the fact is that the use of marijuana for medical purposes is on the rise and many questions need to be answered on how best to distribute and monitor its use for the safety and welfare of the public in the United States.
The Current Medical Marijuana Rules
It must first be pointed out that on a federal level any use of marijuana is considered illegal and remains prohibited. However, the Rohrabacher–Farr amendment that was passed in 2014 severely limited the ability of any federal laws to be enforced in any of the states where medical marijuana has been legalized. Currently the use of cannabis for medical purposes has been legalized in twenty-nine (29) states and the District of Columbia (Washington, DC). Several states allow medical marijuana to be purchased in dispensaries, some allow only cultivation at an individual’s home, and some states allow both.
Medical Marijuana Rules By Individual States
Many consider the current state rules to be very complex and they differ greatly from state to state. For a much more in-depth comparison of each state’s rules concerning legal use of medical marijuana within an individual state, the state-by-state analysis released by the Medical Marijuana Project makes a great resource. For the purpose of this discussion, let’s look at a breakdown of the “rules” for the 29 states that allow the use of medical marijuana to date:
Fully Legalized –
District of Columbia (Washington, DC)
Legal Medical Use and Decriminalized –
Legal Medical Use Only –
Decriminalized (but no medical use) –
Use Still Fully Illegal –
Medical Marijuana and Pharmacies
As discussed previously, the use of marijuana for medical purposes is on the rise as more and more states make it legal in some way. Yet questions need to be answered on how best to distribute and monitor its use for the safety and welfare of the general public in the USA.
Currently out of 29 states where medical marijuana is legal there are only three (3) states where the law requires that a registered pharmacist actually performs the dispensing:
– New York
Using these three states as an example, only a pharmacist is allowed to actually dispense medical marijuana to patients. In this scenario it is the pharmacist who selects and dispenses the medication for a patient, while the physicians identify who is eligible.
In the meantime many pharmacies are exploring the possibilities of dispensing medical marijuana. An interesting press release was released earlier this week announcing the expected openings of two pharmacies in California that are being classified as “medical marijuana-based pharmacies”. The parent company of Cannabis Science, Inc. (CBIS) is a U.S. company headquartered in Irvine, California and is known for being specialized in the development of cannabis based medications. CBIS announced in their press release that both pharmacies are currently going through the final building inspections required, plus that they are also performing testing of all their systems. This includes their policies and procedures covering all aspects of running the business as a pharmacy – from the inventory to the actual dispensing of products to patients. It will be interesting to see how the business is received by both the community and patients.
The Leading Pharmacy Consulting Firm
We welcome any questions that you may have regarding medical marijuana and pharmacies. Healthcare Consultants is known to be a national leader in pharmacy consulting. Since 1989, our in-house specialists have provided expert guidance across all sectors of the pharmacy industry. We work with businesses of every size – from the corner drug store to national corporations and organizations – with only one goal in mind: to improve your pharmacy’s business operations. Some of the services we most commonly provide include:
- New Service Line Integration (such as medical marijuana)
- Strategic Pharmacy Business Planning
- New pharmacy Startup or Expansion
- Pharmacy Performance and Efficiency Enhancements
- Pharmacy Business Management Consulting
- Pharmacy Business Planning
- Interim Pharmacy Management
- Policy and Procedure Development and ReviewFrom major hospitals and healthcare systems to individual community pharmacies, HCC has been the nationally renowned pharmacy consulting firm of choice for over 28 years now. We urge you to contact us today to see how our Pharmacy Consulting services can help you improve your business and be ready for the future. Contact us online or call us today at 800-642-1652 for a free consultation.