An Open Letter About Medical Cannabis to the Pennsylvania House Majority Leader

If cannabis is going to be viewed as a medication, then medically speaking under the law of the land, the medication can only be legally dispensed by pharmacists.

Greetings Rep. Dave Reed:

My name is Jay Sochoka and I am a citizen of the great Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, a registered pharmacist, and an advocate for medical cannabis. The first 2 factors give me the right to contact you, but the third is the reason I am doing so.

I am quite pleased to see that the current medical cannabis bills are sitting on the desk of the Rules Committee, of which you are in charge. It goes without saying that I want to see them advance to both floors and get approved.

This legislation could be a monumental show of bipartisanship. Democrats are unanimously for it, and the level of Republican response has exceeded even my expectations.

I have a solution that may aid the passage of both bills.

Having the jurisdiction of medical cannabis fall under the state’s Department of Health is a great start, but it does not take safety far enough. If cannabis is going to be viewed as a medication, then medically speaking under the law of the land, the medication can only be legally dispensed by pharmacists.

Here is why this makes perfect sense.

Standards, practices, quality assurance, and control are the 4 driving forces in a pharmacist’s work.

Dosage forms are going to be needed if smoking is not going to be allowed as a legal form of consumption.

All of these dosage forms rely on the basic principles of concentrating the THC or CBD from the plant into a lipid vehicle such as olive oil or cocoa butter. This needs to be done under the watchful eye of those already licensed by the state to do such things, in order to ensure that the concentration of active agent in the oil is within tolerable limits.

I fully realize that there are those in my craft who want nothing to do with dispensing medical cannabis, but if you are looking to run 65 dispensaries in the state, then you will only need to find about 199 pharmacists to efficiently staff them.

Edibles are being frowned upon, and the reason is understandable. Nobody wants to be the parent of a kid who eats a tray of cannabis brownies.

I have ideas that could work, including a personal safe and individual vacuum sealing designed to keep this from happening.

I believe that the scope of practice needs to cover the 3 major psychiatric illnesses of anxiety, depression, and bipolar disorder. The current list of available prescription tranquilizers and mood stabilizers are in desperate need of some competition from a natural source.

The use of medical cannabis in autism also merits exploring.

Suppositories and rectally administered oils need serious consideration as dosage forms, as well. It doesn’t get any more medically legitimate than rectal administration, and study results show that this is a potent, low-dose route.

Feel free to contact me if you have any other questions or concerns. Thank you for your time, and I look forward to hearing from you.

Sincerely,

Jay Sochoka, RPh, CIP