November 3rd, 2017

// New poll reveals Ontarians trust pharmacists with safe dispensing of medicinal cannabis

New poll reveals Ontarians trust pharmacists with safe dispensing of medicinal cannabis

Pharmacist counselling of medicinal cannabis key to patient safety

TORONTO, Nov. 2, 2017 /CNW/ - With new polling data revealing Ontarians overwhelmingly trust their pharmacists to dispense medicinal cannabis in the province, the Ontario Pharmacists Association (OPA) is calling on the Government of Ontario to work with the federal government to update existing regulations to allow pharmacists in community pharmacies to safely dispense medicinal cannabis.

Polling commissioned by the OPA and conducted by independent polling firm CICIC Research, with a sample size of 800 respondents, reveals the following:

  • A clear majority of adult Ontarians (70 per cent) agree medicinal cannabis should be dispensed by pharmacists;
  • A majority of adult Ontarians (56 per cent) prefer that medicinal cannabis be dispensed by pharmacists, as opposed to other delivery methods; and
  • Three-quarters of adult Ontarians agree that patients should be able to obtain medicinal cannabis products from pharmacists, so they can receive counselling and advice and can ask questions before receiving the product.

"I'm pleased to see Ontarians once again voice their trust in pharmacists to do more as trusted healthcare partners, this time by supporting pharmacists' ability to dispense medicinal cannabis to those who require it," said Andrew Gall, Chief Executive Officer of the OPA. "Local pharmacists in neighbourhoods across the province are highly trained and best positioned to provide face-to-face counselling to ensure the safe, appropriate and discreet access to medicinal cannabis."

A Role for Ontario's Pharmacists

Under existing regulations, a patient needs to be assessed by their healthcare provider and provided with a medical document for medicinal cannabis, after which they register directly with a licensed producer who processes their request and mails the product to the patient's home.

Unlike with other prescriptions, patients currently cannot access medicinal cannabis products at their local pharmacy. For Ontario's patients and the broader healthcare system, this is a missed opportunity and potential safety risk for a number of important reasons:

  • Pharmacies are secure health centres that can monitor usage in real-time and properly store and handle sensitive products and controlled substances, such as medicinal cannabis. While mailing medicinal cannabis products directly to patients' homes seems convenient, safe and secure, pharmacies are found in practically every community across Ontario and remove any delays that mail-order introduces.
  • As trusted healthcare professionals, Ontario's pharmacists can best support patient safety and education, and ensure appropriate access to medicinal cannabis. As medication experts within the patient's circle of care, pharmacists are in a unique position to help mitigate real or potential risks associated with medicinal cannabis, including identifying potential drug interactions and contraindications, and to suggest alternative therapies where appropriate.

Ontario's pharmacists are natural partners in the development of a patient-focused framework for the dispensing, tracking and monitoring of medicinal cannabis use and its effectiveness. The OPA will continue to advocate for enhancing patient safety, education and appropriate access to medicinal cannabis on behalf of its members.


Through independent research firm CICIC, OPA surveyed 800 respondents who self-selected to participate. An N of 800 is the typical sample size used for Ontario, and is absolutely considered reliable. Interlocking quotas based on age, gender and region were applied to ensure a representative sample of adult Ontario residents (age 18+).

Although telephone surveys are still being conducted, online research using self-selected participants is widely accepted as being valid research. It is an approach that is used by virtually every company in the industry. The margin of error for a sample of this size - if it were a probability (non-online) sample - would be +/- 3.5. All sample surveys and polls may be subject to multiple sources of error, including but not limited to, sampling error, coverage error and measurement error.

About the Ontario Pharmacists Association

The Ontario Pharmacists Association is the largest advocacy organization, continuing education, and drug information provider for pharmacy professionals in Canada.

We are dedicated to working on behalf of patients, pharmacists, pharmacy students, and pharmacy technicians across the province to evolve the practice of pharmacy and advocate for the highest standards of professional excellence and fair compensation.

We believe that by leveraging the unique expertise of pharmacy professionals, by enabling them to practice to their fullest potential, and by making them more accessible to all Ontarians, we will improve the efficiency and effectiveness of the province's healthcare system.

SOURCE Ontario Pharmacists Association


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