Pharmacists – and community pharmacists in particular – can play a vital role in delivering drug harm reduction services, and may be the safest source of recreational cannabis, the International Pharmaceutical Federation has said.

The comments came as a new FIP statement of policy said governments must involve pharmacists in the provision of drug harm reduction services and in the development of policies around medical or recreational cannabis.

The policy statement proposes that based on harm reduction principles, pharmacists may be the best option for the supply of recreational cannabis, but stresses that “such an approach must only be developed in consultation with pharmacists”.

“Strong opposition from professional organisations to the supply of recreational cannabis from pharmacies is acknowledged,” the FIP says, particularly with regard to pharmacists’ concerns about their ethical obligations and standing in their communities.

FIP vice president Andy Gray said: “This statement is extremely timely, given the escalating number of unnecessary deaths caused by the non-medical use of opioids and other drugs, and given the increasing discussions on cannabis policies around the world.

“The profession – pharmacies and their national organisations – needs to actively engage with governments and policymakers as these very fluid situations evolve. This is the key message of the statement.”

“There is good evidence for involving pharmacists, and community pharmacies in particular, in a wide range of harm reduction activities. And, with regard to the supply of cannabis for medical purposes, the expertise of pharmacists must be utilised.”

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