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Pharmacy Students Don’t Know Enough To Prescribe Medical Marijuana

A new survey finds most pharmacy students want to be involved in prescribing marijuana, but only 15% received passing scores testing their cannabis knowledge.

Where pharmacy students attend university has almost no impact on the level of education they receive on marijuana, a new survey finds. Students in both states with legal marijuana and where cannabis remains illegal scored similar on quizzes questioning their knowledge on the indications and adverse effects of medical cannabis.

Published in the current edition of Journal of the American Pharmacists Association, the survey also highlights a growing demand for today’s pharmacy students to receive better education on marijuana. Not only do around 90% of these students believe medical marijuana should be legalized, more than 70% stated they as pharmacists should be responsible in the dispensing process of medical cannabis. But that doesn’t mean they’re ready to do so, according to the study’s authors.

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“Although students feel pharmacists should be involved in the dispensing process of [medical cannabis], this study continues to highlight that pharmacy students are not prepared to recommend, counsel, and interpret drug interactions related to [medical cannabis],” the study found.

the battle between gun ownership and medical marijuana in conservative states
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Regardless of their state marijuana laws, less than half of the students surveyed felt knowledgeable about the efficacy of medical cannabis and capable of providing drug information to patients. In addition, the median score for tests about the indications and adverse effects of medical cannabis fell below 60%, meaning the majority of students received a failing score. Between 15-16% of students scored higher than 70% on a quiz testing indications, or medical conditions that warrant a marijuana prescription.

“Nearly all students in this survey indicated that they felt instruction on [medical cannabis] was imperative in the pharmacy school curriculum,” the study’s authors wrote. “However, only 15% indicated they received some formalized instruction on [medical cannabis.]”

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These findings follow those of previous studies. A 2018 study from the American Journal of Pharmaceutical Education found that more than 80% of students believed medical marijuana should be taught at their schools within the next five years. Another survey of University of Kansas students from 2015 reported that 90% of students thought medical marijuana should be incorporated into their education.

“With increasing state legalizations, pharmacy schools need to address this knowledge gap to ensure optimal patient care,” the study’s authors concluded.

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