Canadians may soon be able to refill their prescriptions for medical marijuana at the pharmacy counter. Shoppers Drug Mart, the largest pharmacy chain in Canada, has applied for a license to distribute marijuana.
“We have applied to be a licensed producer strictly for the purposes of distributing medical marijuana,” Tammy Smitham, the vice president of external communication for Loblaw and Shoppers Drug Mart, said in a statement Tuesday. “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 and we are hopeful that the Government of Canada will embrace that opportunity for enhanced patient care.”
Stocking medical marijuana at Shoppers Drug Mart's 1,700 locations would have a significant impact on the culture surrounding medical marijuana in Canada.
Spokesperson Smitham believes that the Government of Canada is ready to revise the current set of regulations that prevent marijuana from being dispensed at a pharmacy. “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,” she told Huffington Post Canada.
Obtaining the coveted status of licensed producer in Canada is no easy feat. The long list of expensive requirements is only financially possible for major Canadian companies. Multiple screenings, inspections and security clearances are the only way to achieve a license to distribute and/or produce marijuana.
Canadian patients can currently only legally obtain their medical marijuana via the mail. Over 75,000 Canadian patients participate in the nation's medical marijuana program. If Health Canada approves the application for Shoppers Drug Mart, it could become Canada's first coast-to-coast dispensary chain. Canada's Liberal party plans on introducing the groundwork for cannabis legalization by the spring of 2017.