Shoppers Drug Mart, best known as Canada’s leading pharmacy brand, has finally received Health Canada’s go ahead to be a “licensed medical marijuana producer,” a big step for any company as the nation approaches pot legalization. Shoppers can now ready their plans to compete on the medical marijuana stage, dispensing medical cannabis to patients in need.
The company, now under the Loblaw umbrella, applied to Health Canada for the pot license back in October 2016.
“As trusted medication experts, we believe pharmacists have an important role to play in the safe and informed use of medical cannabis, and this is the first step in our journey to provide medical cannabis to our patients,” said Catherine Thomas, Loblaw spokesperson. “We will share more information about our plans in the coming weeks.”
As it stands, the only legal way to get medical-grade marijuana is through mail orders, where licenced producers deliver cannabis to patients via Canada Post. Shoppers has said, however, “that it has no interest in producing medical cannabis.”
The pharmacy has signed supply deals with different licensed producers, including Aurora, Aphria Inc., MedReleaf Corp. and Tilray Inc., all subject to the approval from Health Canada that they just received yesterday.
Loblaw Companies Ltd. is looking to sell recreational marijuana alongside their medicinal products in Newfoundland and Labrador once legalization happens on October 17th of this year. Newfoundland and Labrador have already considered the Loblaw application, adding them to a list of potential cannabis retailers in the region.
Manulife Financial Corp. also announced their partnership with Shoppers in July, as they anticipate offering customers “enhanced medical marijuana insurance coverage.”
The Canadian Pharmacists Association and other industry groups believe pharmacies should play a leading role in medical marijuana distribution.
“Pharmacists have the necessary expertise to mitigate the potential risks associated with medical cannabis, including harmful drug interactions, contraindications, and potential addictive behaviour ... Pharmacists have an existing infrastructure that is already in place to handle controlled substances.”