One of New Zealand’s most prolific prescribers of medicinal cannabis has called on the country’s 3,500+ pharmacists to learn about the medicine to meet surging demand.

Co-owner at Hamilton’s Ngā Hua Pharmacy James Yu has dispensed medicinal cannabis to more than 600 patients in the past three years and predicts demand will soar when locally made products come on to the market, possibly later this year.

Pharmacist James Yu

He said: “Often, the first point of call for enquiries about medicinal cannabis are pharmacists. That includes doctors [fielding] questions from their patients.

“It’s critical pharmacists understand medicinal cannabis so they can give the appropriate advice. A lack of knowledge… will only add a barrier to [patient access].

“Having dispensed to more than 600 patients, almost all of them at some point ask about a product’s country of origin… [but] many patients have made it clear they would prefer to buy local. Without doubt then, once we have Kiwi products, we can expect a whole rush of new interest.”

Yu urged colleagues to use Datapharm’s MCinfo.com education initiative, recently launched in partnership with Helius Therapeutics, and sign up for the one-day Healthcare Professional Forum at this year’s MedCan 2021 Summit, taking place in Auckland on October 12-13.

He added: “MedCan 2021 will contain the most up-to-date information for us as pharmacists. It is a fantastic way to network and meet other health professionals interested in all thing’s medicinal cannabis.

“At the same time, MCinfo is a great online platform to learn more about key aspects such as our endocannabinoid system and the different indications, dosages, and contraindications of medicinal cannabis.”