There’s been a lot happening in Canada when it comes to how medical marijuana patients can access their medicine. They have gone from only allowing it to be sold via mail orders to allowing patients to grow their own medicine at home – and there is talk about even more changes to come. Earlier this year Shoppers Drug Mart, one of the biggest drug store chains in Canada, showed interest in being the first pharmacy to be able to legally dispense medical marijuana prescriptions to patients – and now they have confirmed that they did indeed put in that application.
“We have applied to be a licensed producer strictly for the purposes of distributing medical marijuana,” Shoppers Drug Mart spokeswoman Tammy Smitham confirmed to CBC News. “We have no intention of producing medical marijuana, but we do want the ability to dispense medical marijuana to our patients in conjunction with counselling from a pharmacist.”
In order for Shoppers Drug Mart – or any pharmacy, for that matter – to legally sell medical marijuana to patients Health Canada will have to revise the regulations, but it seems that this is a year of developing new strategies for the way marijuana is handled in Canada, so there is a good chance of that happening. All it would take is a few changes and then Canadians will be able to look to their pharmacist for information regarding medical marijuana – and will have a way to access it without using the mail-order programs or growing it themselves.
“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,” Spokesperson Smitham told Huffington Post Canada.
Earlier this year when Shoppers Drug Mart first mentioned the idea of applying for a license, they had been talking about only selling limited, non-smokable forms of medical marijuana (likely edibles, oils and capsules). They would purchase products straight from producers who would allow them to sell the products under a generic store brand name, rather than brand name products – although with the recent addition of Leafs by Snoop to the Canadian medical marijuana market, perhaps they will reconsider these ideas before they (hopefully) get approval to start selling the products to the over 75,000 patients in Canada.
If Shoppers gets approval from Health Canada to sell medical marijuana products it will make a huge difference in the way some view medical cannabis. To have it sold in an actual pharmacy, for some, would be a sort of confirmation that it truly is a medicine and should be treated as such. It would also open up the possibility for other drug stores in the country, such as London Drugs and Rexall – widening the market as well as patient access. This all comes only months before the Canadian government is set to create regulations to legalize recreational cannabis in the spring of 2017, so who knows how these changes could affect or improve the recreational market as well.