Some Illinois pharmacists want to dispense marijuana

January 24, 2014

With this year’s enactment of a state law allowing medical marijuana sales, some Illinois pharmacists would like to own dispensaries so they too can gain a piece of the legal marijuana trade.

With this year’s enactment of a state law allowing medical marijuana sales, some Illinois pharmacists would like to own dispensaries so they too can gain a piece of the legal marijuana trade.

According to an article in the Chicago Tribune, the subject fueled a spirited debate during a recent meeting of the Illinois Board of Pharmacy.

Pharmacist Joseph Friedman argued that it would be logical for pharmacists to oversee the dispensing of medical marijuana because they are trained to understand dosing, side effects, and drug interactions.

"It makes perfect sense," Friedman reportedly told board members. "After all, pharmacists are the drug experts."

Last year, Illinois lawmakers approved a four-year pilot program that allows medical marijuana to be sold to treat about 35 medical conditions. Patients are expected to start receiving marijuana next year. Medical marijuana has been legalized in 22 states and the District of Columbia, while Colorado and Washington allow it for recreational use.

However, pharmacists are prohibited from dispensing marijuana because of its federal classification. Friedman, of Lincolnshire, is attempting to rally pharmacists to support efforts to reclassify the drug as a Schedule II substance so pharmacists could dispense it.

"I think it's a tremendous missed opportunity for pharmacists not to be sitting in the first row on this," board member Jack Mazzotti reportedly said.

Not all of his colleagues agreed. "We have nothing whatsoever to do with it," said Board Chairman Philip Burgess, who also chairs the Drug Topics advisory board. "We're not interested, frankly, because we're not involved."