Canada’s Pharmacies Could Soon Sell Medical Marijuana

By May Wilkerson 02/26/16

A spokesperson for Shoppers Drug Mart, the company that operates Canada's largest drug store chains, says that pharmacies are the safest option for dispensing medical marijuana. 

Canada’s Pharmacies Could Soon Sell Medical Marijuana
Canada's second largest pharmacy chain Photo via Shutterstock

Imagine walking into CVS or Duane Reade and asking for the weed aisle. This could soon be a reality for Canadians. The country’s new progressive prime minister, Justin Trudeau, has been actively working towards more liberal marijuana laws, and eventual legalization. And riding this wave, Canada’s largest pharmacy chain is considering selling medical marijuana. 

It was reported this week that Shoppers Drug Mart, which operates 1,300 drug stores across Canada, has been in talks with some of the country's licensed medical marijuana producers about stocking pot products on its shelves. "Pharmacists are medication experts and play a significant role in the prescribing and monitoring of medication to ensure safe and optimal use," said the pharmacy company’s VP of Communications & Corporate Affairs, Tammy Smitham. "We believe that dispensing medical marijuana through pharmacy, like other medications, is the safest option."

Currently, Canadian federal law states that medical cannabis must be obtained directly from government-licensed producers, and not through a third party. But a court ruling this week deemed that system unconstitutional, opening possible doors for pharmacies and other retailers to begin selling medical pot products.

Shoppers has not directly lobbied the government for permission to sell pot. But Loblaw, its parent company, did recently register lobbyists to "policies relating to the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act (CDSA) and how they impact the role of pharmacists." This is the law that governs distribution of marijuana.

Rexall, the country’s second largest pharmacy chain, has reportedly also been in talks with medical pot producers about stocking their products. "We have spoken with all the major pharmacies in the last quarter," said Mark Gobuty, who founded Peace Naturals Project, one of the first government-licensed medical marijuana producers to sell cannabis oils. 

He said the pharmacies have had their eyes on medical pot after Canada's Supreme Court ruled last summer that patients should be able to consume pot in any form—including oils, edibles and other extracts. According to Gobuty, the retailers’ queries have mostly focused on dispensing oils, along with possibly releasing their own generic store brand.

"They have to approach this with caution but their interest is very serious because they're seeing organic growth and incremental revenue," he said. "Cannabis is a natural one because of the uptake by the consumers and the death of reefer madness."

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May Wilkerson is a writer, comic and Managing Editor @someecards. Co-host of the podcast Crazy; In Bed w/alyssalimp. She is also the top Google result for "insufferable lunatic." Follow this insufferable lunatic on Twitter.