Cannabis in America
Canada’s Top Pharmacy Chain Wants to Sell Medical Marijuana
Canada’s biggest pharmacy chain is hoping to be the first in the country to sell legal medical marijuana over the counter. Shoppers Drug Mart has confirmed that it applied to the Canadian government earlier this year to become a licensed medical marijuana distributer.
In email statement Tuesday, Shoppers Drug Mart spokeswoman Tammy Smitham confirmed the news adding, “We have no intention of producing medical marijuana, but we do want the ability to dispense medical marijuana to our patients in conjunction with counseling from a pharmacist.”
Under Canadian federal law, patients with prescriptions are only able to purchase medical marijuana directly from one of a few dozen licensed producers. Producers are required to securely ship pot directly to the patient by mail order only.
“We believe that allowing medical marijuana to be dispensed through pharmacy would increase access, safety, quality and security for the thousands of Canadians who use the drug as part of their medication therapy,” explained Smitham. “We are hoping that the Government of Canada will revise the current regulations to allow for the dispensing of medical marijuana at pharmacy.”
Canada currently has an exceptionally large number of medical marijuana users; experts estimate that there are approximately 80,000 to 90,000 registered marijuana patients in the country.
In August, the Canadian Pharmacist Association argued in favor of clinical oversight from pharmacists to minimize harms associated with use of all forms of marijuana in its submission to the federal task force studying marijuana legalization and regulation.
“We know that these medications are potent, we know that marijuana is potent and that there can be drug interactions with medical marijuana,” said spokesman Phil Emberley, adding:
The other reason to have it available through pharmacies is that pharmacies can potentially have it paid for through a third party payer. If a physician prescribes it, a pharmacist dispenses it, then their insurance program could potentially pay for it, which I don’t think is going to be possible on the recreational side.
Shoppers has more than 1,200 locations across Canada. If approved, it could set the tone for other pharmacies to follow suit in expanding to serve medical marijuana over-the-counter. Its competitor Rexall told CNNMoney that it is monitoring the situation, but not applying for a distribution license at this point.