TORONTO, ON. (NEWS 1130) – Shoppers Drug Mart says it has submitted an application to be a distributor of medical marijuana. A spokeswoman says in an email that the drug store chain has applied to Health Canada to become a licensed medical marijuana producer, but only for the purpose of distributing the drug.
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Tammy Smitham says Shoppers has “no intention” of producing pot. The application is an administrative requirement to be able to distribute the drug. However, even if Shoppers’ application is granted, the retailer won’t be permitted to dispense the drug through its stores unless the government updates the regulations.
Under the current regime, patients are only permitted to buy medical marijuana directly from licensed producers, who send it by mail.
Smitham says Shoppers is hopeful Ottawa will consider updating the rules to allow pharmacies to play a role in distributing medical marijuana. “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.”
It appears Shoppers’ pot plan is just high hopes.
Currently, medical pot is only allowed to be mailed to patients or grown at the patient’s home.
When asked if the government would consider changing the rules, Health Minister Jane Philpott says the rules are adequate as the are now.
“At the moment we have a very strict regulatory regime in place for access to cannabis for medical purposes. There’s an appropriate process by which people can become a licensed distributor,” said Philpott.
NDP Health Critic Don Davies says the government should consider the option.
“If we’re going to treat marijuana as a medicinal substance then, like a lot of prescriptions, dispense by professional pharmacists make some sense,” he says.