“Specially qualified pharmacists” based in the community could dispense these drugs over the counter after a short, free-of-charge consultation with the drug user, during which they would share “safety information” with the individual and direct them to support services if required, Dr Alex Armitage, co-convenor of the Green party drugs policy working group, told C+D on Tuesday (November 19).
“Pharmacists would be expected to give verbal and written harm reduction advice to users” and verify their customers’ age, “as is currently the case for alcohol”, to ensure no recreational drugs are sold to minors, Dr Armitage added.
This service could be provided by community pharmacies, but the Green party envisages “specialist pharmacies being set up” to provide this service.
Black market drugs in pharmacy
Announced in the Green party’s 2019 manifesto – which also proposes making heroin available on prescription, “after a medical assessment by a doctor” – Dr Armitage said specialist pharmacies will dispense the majority of drugs currently available on the black market.
Prices will be set by the Advisory Council for Drug Safety – an independent committee that the Green party would introduce should it win the election, to collaborate on drug use matters and regulation.
“Drugs would be manufactured to pharmaceutical standards and would be subject to statutory labelling, including on dose and recommended route of administration,” Dr Armitage explained.
The party also envisages introducing a “maximum dose per visit” to reduce the risk of overdose, “as there is currently with paracetamol”.
Pharmacists offering this service would be required “to be familiar with the social and cultural contexts in which people use drugs, including specific examples such as chemsex” – the sexualised use of recreational drugs – Dr Armitage said.
“Pharmacists would also be expected to know the signs of harmful drug use, interpersonal abuse, and be prepared to make referrals appropriately to medical, psychological and social services,” he added.