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Medical Marijuana And The Role Of A Pharmacist: Top Tips To Read


PratimaMakanji

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While marijuana is classified as a Schedule I drug, its medicinal uses can be traced back to years. And as this drug's reputation shifts from that of an illicit drug to that of a therapeutic one, pharmacists need to gear up to provide the best possible advice to their patients.

 

If you are worried about counseling your patients on the use of this medicinal drug, read on for some tips.

 

Know the Basics

 

As a pharmacist, you need to know all there is to know about medical marijuana so that you can counsel patients in the right way. Here are some basics.

 

What Is It?

 

The terms medical marijuana or medical cannabis refer to using the unprocessed marijuana plant as a whole or using its extracts to treat diseases or alleviate symptoms.

 

What Makes Marijuana Medicine?

 

Marijuana contains chemical compounds called cannabinoids. Cannabinoids act as medicine in various ways by imitating compounds called endocannabinoids which are produced naturally in our bodies and serve to maintain health and internal stability.

 

When consumed, cannabinoids bind to receptor sites in the brain (CB-1) and body (CB-2) and produce different effects depending on the type of cannabinoid and the type of receptor site.

 

Do All Cannabinoids Have Medicinal Properties?

 

Marijuana contains over 60 types of cannabinoids, several of which have medical value. However, the main cannabinoids garnering immense medical interest are THC and CBD.

 

THC is known to increase appetite, reduce nausea, and decrease inflammation, pain, and muscle control problems. CBD doesn’t affect the mind or behavior of an individual, helping control epileptic seizures and reducing pain and inflammation.

 

What Conditions Can Marijuana Treat?

 

Medical marijuana can help in the following ways:

  • Increasing appetite and controlling weight loss related to debilitating illness like HIV/AIDS and cancer
  • Controlling nausea and vomiting associated to cancer chemotherapy
  • Treating glaucoma
  • Alleviating symptoms like spasticity secondary to multiple sclerosis or other neurologic diseases

What Are the Risks?

 

Any good pharmacy technician training program will teach you that marijuana is less dangerous than other opiates. However, there is still the risk of adverse effects. Marijuana can also interact with other drugs such as barbiturates, protease inhibitors, tricyclic antidepressants, central nervous system depressants, lithium, etc. and lead to problems.

 

Marijuana can exacerbate symptoms in patients with bipolar disorder or schizophrenia. It can also cause adverse effects in individuals suffering from respiratory disease, cardiac disease, vertigo, etc.

 

Short-term use of marijuana can impair memory and judgment, cause psychotic episodes, and lead to coordination disorders. Long-term use of this drug can lead to addiction, cardiovascular problems, and respiratory disorders.

 

Assess the Patient and His Needs

 

Before prescribing medical marijuana to a patient, you will need to be fully aware of his condition. Be sure to practice within the limits of your knowledge and refrain from prescribing marijuana in the event the patient's medical condition is beyond the scope of your skills and experience.

 

Furthermore, weight the benefits of other treatment options against the medical benefits of marijuana for your patient. You will need to be certain that prescribing marijuana is the most appropriate treatment option; if you feel that your patient's health can improve without using marijuana, don't prescribe it.

 

Be especially careful when treating young patients in their 20s- the brain is still developing at this stage and using marijuana in these years can interfere with normal brain development. Also, children, adolescents, and adults under the age of 25 years who consume marijuana are at a greater risk of developing negative effects such as illicit drug use, cannabis use disorder, long-term cognitive impairment, and suicidal ideation. Prescribe marijuana to younger patients only when other alternative therapeutic methods have failed to alleviate symptoms.

 

Administer the Right Dose

 

Marijuana has a lot of variability which makes it all the more important to prescribe the right dosage to patients. Note that marijuana can be used in three ways- it can be inhaled, ingested, or applied topically as a cream or tincture.

 

Inhaling marijuana delivers the highest levels of THC but smoking it can be harmful to the health. As such, inhaling the vapors is a better option. Ingesting the drug can delay the effects for up to three hours which may cause some individuals to ingest an extra dose. On the plus side, ingesting marijuana can prolong the length of time the individual feels high.

 

Ensure that you ask your patients lots of questions and administer the right dose according to their needs. Also discuss how they’d like to use marijuana and help them weigh the pros and cons of each method.

 

Explain the Risks

 

Being a pharmacist, you should in no way encourage the use of drugs. Be clear about the risks of abusing drugs and explain the same to your patients.

 

Continue monitoring patients for emerging risks and complications and discontinue prescribing the drug whenever you feel that the risks outweigh the benefits. You might also want to ensure that your patients don't seek marijuana from other sources.

 

Conclusion

 

Not many people are comfortable talking about using marijuana with their health care provider. In many cases, a health care provider may not be the best person to counsel a patient on using medical marijuana in the right way.

 

Pharmacists, on the other hand, can explain the benefits and risks of using medical marijuana to patients in the best way possible. If you had been anxious about counseling patients on the use of medical marijuana, you now have nothing to worry about. With the tips given here, your job is certainly made easier!

 

(Image Source: https://www.pinterest.com/pin/527273068849438666/)

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what the heck is this post about?

 

if you feel that your patient's health can improve without using marijuana, don't prescribe it.

 

Be sure to practice within the limits of your knowledge and refrain from prescribing marijuana in the event the patient's medical condition is beyond the scope of your skills and experience.

 

Marijuana has a lot of variability which makes it all the more important to prescribe the right dosage to patients.

pharmacists by definition cannot prescribe any drugs, a physician is the one who prescribes.

 

AND no one can prescribe a schedule 1 drug like marijuana, except a very very small amount of drs (less than 12 drs in the entire country) with a special federal license.

 

its this kind of moo poo incorrect information that gets people into trouble legally. if you are talking about another country you should make that clear.

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