Understanding how to correctly and securely store medicinal cannabis products in a pharmacy is an important responsibility for Australian pharmacists.
As the number of pharmacies dispensing medicinal cannabis products continues to grow every year, we’ve put together a few tips to help pharmacists store cannabis products correctly.
Keep reading to find out what drug schedule cannabis products sit under, what kind of safe your pharmacy requires and how much space is required.
Storing S3, S4 and S8 medicines
Security and storage for any medicine is dependent on the schedule the product is categorised under. As most medicinal cannabis products currently fall under either a Schedule 3 (S3), Schedule 4 (S4) or Schedule 8 (S8) category, products should be stored in the same way as any other S3, S4 or S8 product in your pharmacy.
Below are some general tips on the storage requirements for each schedule. However, please be aware that legislation can differ slightly depending on which state your pharmacy is located.
Storage requirements for S3 medicines:
- S3 medicines must be stored behind the counter or somewhere inside the pharmacy that is not accessible by the public.
- Storage must facilitate the mandatory intervention by the pharmacist in the sale of the product.
Storage requirements for S4 medicines:
- S4 medicines must be stored in a room that is not accessible by the public, such as the dispensary.
- S4 medicines that require refrigeration must be contained in a refrigerator that is either inside a locked room away from the public or is secured to the premises of a pharmacy.
Storage requirements for S8 medicines:
- S8 medicines must be stored separately from other drugs
- S8 medicines must be always kept in a locked safe, except when in immediate use
- S8 medicines that require refrigeration must be contained in a lockable refrigerator that is either inside a locked room away from the public or is secured to the premises of a pharmacy.
- Dispensing pharmacists who have no undertakings by AHPRA on their registration to dispense controlled S8 products are the only personnel allowed access to the locked S8 room, refrigerator or safe
- Dispensing pharmacists must record all S8 transactions. The records must always reflect the physical balance in the pharmacy’s Schedule 8 room/safe.
What kind of safe is required to store medicinal cannabis?
Most pharmacies will already be dispensing S8 medicines and should have a safe that meets the requirements for storing S8 medicines.
If your pharmacy doesn’t have an S8 safe, please refer to state legislation for the safe requirements for storing S8 medicines.
The size of the safe and number of safes required to dispense medical cannabis products depends on the volume of products that need to be stored.
Once you start dispensing medical cannabis products in volume, you may need to look into acquiring a new safe or multiple safes which can be dedicated to either S8 products or cannabis products.
Here’s what we recommend:
3-5 scripts / per day = use your current S8 safe
20 scripts / per day = consider investing in a larger or separate safe
Temperature requirements for storing medicinal cannabis
Storing products at the correct temperature is another key consideration when dispensing medical cannabis.
Most medical cannabis products don’t require refrigeration; however majority will need to be stored at a temperature below 25 degrees Celsius, out of direct sunlight. A refrigerator or cold room is therefore not required in most cases as this temperature can be reached using air conditioning within the pharmacy.
To ensure the quality of the product is maintained at all times, we suggest purchasing a simple temperature monitoring device which can alert the pharmacist when the temperature goes above or below the recommended limit. This device is particularly helpful for pharmacies who store medicinal cannabis products in larger volumes.
How much space do I need?
As most pharmacies will already have processes set up for filling S8 prescriptions, the extra physical space required for dispensing medicinal cannabis products is minimal. You can simply utilise the current space and your current dispensing process to fulfil your customers’ medicinal cannabis prescriptions.
Just like any other medicine, the physical space required to dispense will depend on the number of patients and prescriptions you are filling for those medicines. When your patient volume increases, it is a good idea to consider expanding your bench space to create extra room for checking, packing and labelling medicinal cannabis products.
To help simplify the medical cannabis dispensing process for their team, some pharmacists prefer to separate their S4 and S8 medicinal cannabis products from their other S4 and S8 medicines.
Check your state legislation
In Australia, each state can have slightly different regulations for storing medicinal cannabis products. Before you begin your cannabis dispensing journey, it is critical for you to understand any state-specific legislations to ensure your pharmacy is compliant.
Here is a list we’ve put together of Australia’s governing bodies that control the legislations for medicinal cannabis in each state:
- nsw.gov.au: NSW Poisons and Therapeutic Goods Act 1966
- qld.gov.au: QLD Health (Drugs and Poisons) Regulation 1996
- act.gov.au: ACT Drugs of Dependence Act 1989
- nt.gov.au: NT Poisons and Dangerous Drugs Act
- vic.gov.au: VIC Drugs, Poisons and Controlled Substances Act 1981
- tas.gov.au: TAS Alcohol and Drug Dependency Act 1968
- sa.gov.au: SA Controlled Substances Act 1984
- wa.gov.au: WA Poisons Act 1964
Ready to dispense medical cannabis from your pharmacy?
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With free shipping storewide, easy ordering from Australia’s leading medical cannabis suppliers and the largest product range in the country, you can start confidently dispensing cannabis products to your eligible customers.
The contents in this article do not constitute legal advice, are not intended to be a substitute for legal advice and should not be relied upon as such. You should seek legal advice or other professional advice in relation to any matters you or your organisation may have. Information in this article was correct at time of publishing but please check your own state regulations for updates.
CanView does not endorse the use of medicinal cannabis without lawful prescription. Just like any medicine, medicinal cannabis may have both positive and negative side effects on the user and should only be prescribed to patients by a health professional with the authority and expertise to do so. The information provided by CanView is for informational and educational purposes and is of a general nature. Patients considering medical cannabis are advised to speak to their general practitioner first to see if it’s a suitable therapy.