Many consumers are willing to try medicinal cannabis for problems currently solved with over-the-counter and prescription drugs.
The problem that arises, however, is there is no established course when it comes to prescribed cannabis. There’s no one with experienced advice to say: ‘take two hits and call me in the morning.’
When cannabis became legal, it didn’t come with clinically proven directions or a users’ manual. If a new consumer wants to try a cannabis remedy for pain or a problem formerly solved by prescription drugs, there are no equivalent detailed direction, dosage or documented contraindications to help answer the questions: How much? How often?
What are the roles of all the stakeholders as consumers look to cannabis for relief?
When doctors need reference material on prescription drugs coupled with recommended dosages for various conditions, they have loads of resources. Most family doctors have the ‘Physicians’ Desk Reference’ in every exam room. A doctor refers to this or uses his ‘clinical experience’ to write a prescription. Without any cannabis clinical experience or any ‘desk references’, most doctors are in the dark about how to prescribe. Without approved clinical trials, it will be a long time until cannabis chapters are added to these publications.
Legalization has not changed the experience or the opinions of family doctors overnight. Many doctors are still not comfortable with recommending or writing prescriptions for medical cannabis. If a patient wants their doctor to prescribe cannabis, it may be a long and slow learning curve for both of them. Patients might find more expertise with specialists at cannabis companies and go elsewhere. It still stands however that many patients would prefer that their family doctors, who know them, get quickly up to speed on cannabis options.
Pharmacies have a business opportunity with cannabis: they are increasing product offerings, and therefore, attracting new customers. It is their responsibility to get their pharmacists educated on cannabis as soon as possible, and, as in the case of Shoppers Drug Mart, provide doctor education as quickly as they can. A smart strategy for pharmacists is recognizing that patients will want to understand the choice they have between their cannabis options and traditional medicine, and how they do or don’t complement each other.
The Cannabis Company
It is in the best interest of a cannabis brand to educate their employees with a detailed amount of information regarding their product and the physiology of the plant and how it works with the human body. Cannabis companies are at a particular advantage when it comes to establishing themselves as the go-to source for all things cannabis. Cannabis companies can also help move the medical market forward faster by paying for legitimate clinical trials. Proof of efficacy is what medical users want and what they are used to having in the medications they take. Many won’t be comfortable experimenting to see what works. A big investment in research trials will be a boon for any brand.