Shoppers Drug Mart looks into selling medical marijuana

Retail giant believes it has important role to play in medical marijuana market

Shoppers Drug Mart is considering selling medical marijuana in its stores, such as this Danforth Avenue location. Daniel McKenzie/Toronto Observer

There’s plenty of buzz around medical marijuana these days and Shoppers Drug Mart might want to join the party.

The drug store giant confirmed it is looking into the process of selling medical marijuana at its stores, assuming the legal framework is in order.

“We believe that it would be distributed — and should be distributed — through pharmacies, where pharmacists can help guide people to use this on a medical basis,” Shoppers’ vice-president of pharmacy John Tse said in a recent statement.

A distribution deal with a retailer of Shoppers’ size could present a big opportunity for producers. CanvasRx is a private company that acts as a resource and marketplace for all aspects of the medical marijuana business in Canada.

“One of the hesitations that doctors and patients generally have in considering cannabis as a treatment option is the stigma that goes along with being a cannabis user,” CanvasRx spokesperson Ronan Levy says. “When you put it into a place like Shoppers Drug Mart, which is a well-respected health-affiliated brand, it gives a lot more credibility to it as a treatment option for patients.”

Shoppers is not a licensed producer or distributor so they cannot sell medical marijuana at this time, according to Health Canada regulations. Even so, some producers might be preparing for future changes.

“By and large, inventory levels (of legalized cannabis production) are going up across the industry, but even if Shoppers was authorized to start selling, as long as people need a prescription, the real bottleneck in the industry is going to be doctors,” Levy said. “If regulations change and doctors are no longer necessary, it’s just over the counter, then I think you’d see a big spike in demand.”

The Liberal government has acknowledged potential changes to marijuana laws.

If regulations become more lenient or recreational marijuana is legalized, Shoppers could become the first major storefront distributor.

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Posted: Mar 5 2016 6:56 pm
Filed under: News