Pharmacists in Calgary this weekend for a national conference are tackling the issue of doctor assisted dying, just days after it become the law of the land.

The Canadian Pharmacists Association annual conference has a full agenda, but assisted dying is near the top of the list.

Saskatoon-based pharmacist Derek Jorgenson says he has a lot of questions about assisted dying.

"What is the best drug? What is the best dose? What do you tell patients to expect? We're not used to giving out drugs in lethal doses," Jorgenson said.

"And so we're not used to explaining to patients how to take a drug in a lethal dose."

Derek Jorgenson

Derek Jorgenson says doctor-assisted dying is a relatively new concept for health practitioners. (Andrew Brown/CBC)

Jorgenson is looking for answers at the conference which goes all weekend, he plans to attend a session Sunday looking at the issue as it relates to pharmacists.

Joelle Walker — the director of government relations with the association — will be moderating the session.

"There's a lot of information that you can give to a patient about how to take the medication correctly, what you can expect. So there's a bit of a counselling role there," Walker said.

"There's a possibility that a pharmacist could be the last sort of point of contact in the health care system if the person takes the medication at home with their family present."

Change in thinking

Jorgenson says doctor assisted dying is a relatively new concept for health practitioners.

"We are trained to heal people, to keep people from dying so it's a complete change in the way we are thinking," he said.

"Now we are going to help you to die because you want to and it is the right thing to do but as a health professional it goes against every part of your being and how you are trained."

A legal expert will be on hand Sunday to look at issues around criminal and civil liability.