I am a pharmacist. When I studied pharmaceutical science at Sydney University 24 years ago we were not taught about the Endocannabinoid System (ECS). We were not taught that the ECS was discovered in 1992 by Lumir Hanus at the Hebrew University or that the Endocannabinoid System is the largest receptor system in the body and is responsible for cellular communications. As we now know from the research of Professor Raphael Mechoulam and Lumir Hanus at Hebrew University, our bodies produce a range of endocannabinoids, and we know that the phytocannabinoids found in the cannabis plant and actually in many other plants as well (but not in as high a quantity as found in cannabis) mimic the actions of the endocannabinoids found in our bodies and as a result, we can treat a wide range of medical conditions with cannabis.
To make up for my lack of formal education in cannabinoids, I recently took an MMJ411 online course and I am now certified as a pharmacist in cannabinoids.
To begin with, I completed the course on available medications in the USA including Sativex, Epiolidex, Dronabinol, and Marinol. These are the currently FDA-approved medications that contain THC and CBD and can be prescribed legally by your physician for nausea associated with chemotherapy, Spasticity in MS, and Dravets syndrome (a severe type of epilepsy).
I then took a second course that goes deeper and includes the history of cannabis for medical use, dosage and delivery, and an overview of cannabis medications that are currently available. Together the two courses taught me everything I need to know in order to knowledgeably counsel my patients on the correct use of cannabis medicine. These courses were excellent and provided clear goals and outcomes and I earned 10 Continuing Education points, although Israeli pharmacists do not need CMEs.
Right now, a lot of us are home with more time on our hands than normal. I highly recommend that you use this time to get certified, I took the pharmacists course, there are courses for nurses and physicians too and basic patient/consumption courses available.
In Israel, cannabis is prescribed by physicians for a range of medical conditions including epilepsy, nausea, AIDS, Crohn’s Disease, and chronic, severe pain. Once prescribed, patients go to their pharmacy to choose from a range of products appropriate for their prescriptions. Eight available categories of cannabis range from high THC with no CBD to high CBD with little or no THC. A typical prescription could be C0T15 meaning zero CBD and up to 15% THC, a ratio that is known to treat pain.
In the US, cannabis is available through the dispensary system and people typically get their medicine from a ‘budtender’ (yes that is a term). In certain states, budtenders are required to be certified. I believe that anyone dispensing medical cannabis, be it a licensed pharmacist or a dispensary budtender, should complete these courses and ensure that they are certified and experienced to provide patients and customers the correct information.
Saul Kaye is a pharmacist in Israel and the Founder of iCAN: Israel Cannabis. You can reach him at [email protected].