Thinking of giving up pills for plants? Are you a new medical marijuana patient who doesn’t know much about cannabis other than it gets you high? Well, get ready to get woke about cannabis medicine! Elevate Holistics’ Russell Colby recently chatted live on Facebook with an actual cannabis pharmacist (yes, they do exist!), and she shared some valuable need-to-know info for patients who use cannabis as medicine.
In this post, we break down what a dispensary pharmacist is and the need they serve for patients and doctors alike.
About Kelsey Schwander
Kelsey Schwander is a Doctor of Pharmacy originally from Denver, Colorado, who has been practicing in St. Louis, Missouri for the last three years. Through her company, BHealth Consulting, she meets one-to-one with patients in a doctor’s office. In her work, she helps patients and doctors understand the overall picture of their medications and supplements and how they work and interact with cannabis. Additionally, she is also a professor at a pharmacy school—helping to fill the gap of medical cannabis experts in the healthcare field!
How She Became a Dispensary Pharmacist
In the interview, Kelsey explains how being from Denver naturally set her up to understand cannabis patients.
Dr. Kelsey Schwander (BHealth Consulting): About a year ago, I really got into cannabis education. So being from Denver, recreational cannabis happened when I was in pharmacy school. It became second nature to me to ask my patients, “Do you use alcohol? Do you smoke tobacco? Do you use cannabis?” Because there are drug interactions that are really important. There are disease states that are really important, and we may dose things differently based on them.
Moving to St. Louis made Kelsey realize that cannabis science was not being taught everywhere and, surprisingly, not to healthcare providers. In fact, she tells us, only about 11% of medical schools are teaching cannabinoid science.
Dr. Kelsey Schwander (BHealth Consulting): And so I just have had a lot of experience now working with patients in cannabis. So when I moved to St. Louis, I noticed that there was a huge gap in knowledge, especially from healthcare providers.
It’s interesting—and a shame—that cannabis medicine has had to take this backdoor into the medical industry … Normally, medicine works the other way around. Science introduces it to healthcare providers, who then introduce it to the patients … with very little questioning. Which leads us into the next section and the need that Kelsey and other cannabis pharmacists fill …
Why Be a Weed Pharmacist?
A pharmacist is someone who prepares and dispenses medicinal drugs. They obviously understand how these drugs work in patients, their side effects, and how they interact. A cannabis pharmacist can do all that with cannabis factored in. With all the new MMJ patients in the U.S., it’s easy to see the need for such an expert.
The obvious lack of cannabis education in the healthcare industry inspired Kelsey to use her unique knowledge and position to help fill the gap.
Dr. Kelsey Schwander (BHealth Consulting): So that’s when I started educating healthcare providers. I did webinars and I’ve done continuing education courses for MDs, NPs, psychologists, and counselors. And now I’m really getting in front of patients and have some exciting collaborations with some dispensaries coming up. There’s a lot of fun stuff coming up and if you want to find out more, you can always go to my website.
On the BHealth Consulting website, you’ll see that Kelsey offers one-on-one medication consultations with patients. She’ll even help you get set for out-of-country trips and work with your doctor to get your prescriptions filled.
She also coaches providers and their teams to help them build their confidence in working with cannabis patients. Advising, guiding, and outfitting businesses with the right tools are additional superpowers a dispensary pharmacist can offer. Their knowledge can empower everyone in the healthcare industry.
How Do Cannabis Pharmacists Assist Medical Marijuana Patients?
A dispensary pharmacist is a licensed professional who works in medical marijuana dispensaries to provide education, advice and assistance to medical marijuana patients. They are responsible for helping patients select the right cannabis products that can meet their individual medical needs, such as strains, potency and dosage forms.
Cannabis pharmacists also review patient records and histories to suggest the most suitable products as well as evaluate drug interactions and contraindications with other medications. Additionally, they provide counseling on how to use cannabis safely, effectively and responsibly.
Their role is particularly important in states where recreational marijuana is legal but medical marijuana remains strictly regulated because they help patients get the best outcomes in terms of symptom relief while minimizing any potential risks of harm or side effects associated with medical marijuana use. Furthermore, dispensary pharmacists provide resources for finding additional information about specific products or treatments so that patients can make informed decisions about their health care.
Can Pharmacists Smoke Weed
The answer is yes, pharmacists and pharmacy technicians can use marijuana with a medical card if they’re not impaired at work, comply with their employer’s drug policies, and avoid any DUI or drug-related legal issues.
Despite this, it’s important to note that many pharmacy employers implement strict no-use policies to ensure a drug-free workplace in accordance with OSHA and state laws. Violating these policies or failing drug tests can lead to termination.
Having a medical card and legally using marijuana in designated states does not necessarily jeopardize a pharmacist’s license. However, disciplinary measures may be considered by the Pharmacy Board in instances of DUI arrests, other drug-related offenses, working while under the influence, or if marijuana use adversely affects professional responsibilities.
In situations where substance abuse hampers a pharmacist’s ability to perform their duties, the Board may suggest participation in a Pharmacist Recovery Program.
How to Become a Dispensary Pharmacist
To become a licensed weed pharmacist, you will need to:
- Secure an Associate’s or Bachelor’s degree in Pharmacy or a related field.
- Finish a state-approved training program tailored for pharmacy practice in the cannabis industry.
- Successfully pass the North American Pharmacists Licensure Examination (NAPLEX) and any other exams required by your state board of pharmacy.
- Submit an application to dispense medical marijuana to your state board of pharmacy, including additional documents like references from pharmacists or physicians attesting to your qualifications.
- Undergo an interview with the state board of pharmacy members, if required, as part of the approval process for obtaining a license to practice as a dispensary pharmacist.
Licensed weed pharmacists must also keep themselves up-to-date with best practices in dispensing medical cannabis, understand federal and state regulations related to medical marijuana (including dosing, recordkeeping, and labeling), be aware of drug interactions, and stay informed on the latest medical cannabis research to provide accurate advice to patients.
Elevate Holistics for Access to Cannabis Knowledge
Knowledge and understanding are the great connectors that keep us from being divided from that which could greatly benefit us. This is why Elevate Holistics believes in being a part of the cannabis community.
Feel free to join our Facebook group where you will find regular interviews with industry experts, visits to dispensaries, and cannabis advocates of all sorts who believe in patient access to medical marijuana. And check out our website for additional services like pharmacist consultations. Some of these are free add-ons when you book an appointment for your medical marijuana card or renewal. As always, if you have any questions—reach out! We’re here to make your cannabis experience safe, easy, and as beneficial as possible. Cheers!