By FRANCINE KOPUN Business reporter
Tues., Oct. 25, 2016
Shoppers Drug Mart confirmed Tuesday it had submitted an application to become a licensed medical marijuana producer, a move that medical marijuana producers welcomed.
“On the whole, it’s a really good thing because it shows that there is a level of credibility of the industry that might not have existed just two or three years ago,” said Jordan Sinclair, a spokesman for Tweed, a producer of medical marijuana with operations in Smiths Falls, Ont.
“I think when you see a player like Shoppers Drug Mart take notice and then decide they want to be a part of that industry, it really speaks volumes to how far cannabis as a medical option has come.”
Though the drug store chain announced Tuesday it had applied to become a licensed medical marijuana producer, it did so only in order to distribute the drug, according to a spokesperson.
“As we have indicated in the past, we believe that allowing medical marijuana to be dispensed through a pharmacy would increase access, safety, quality and security for the thousands of Canadians who use the drug as part of their medication therapy,” according to spokesperson Tammy Smitham.
“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.”
Shoppers Drug Mart is owned by Loblaw Companies Ltd.
A government task force on marijuana legalization and regulation in Canada has concluded public hearings and is working on a submission to the federal government. Under Liberal Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, the government has made a commitment to legalize marijuana, while strictly regulating and restricting access to the drug.
It is anticipated that the task force will finish its work by late fall 2016, and submit its final report to the ministers of justice, health, and public safety at the end of November, according to government spokesperson André Gagnon.
Currently, patients with prescriptions are only permitted to buy medical marijuana directly from licensed producers and have the product delivered by mail.
“I think it’s a good thing for the industry, overall,” said Deepak Anand, executive director of the Canadian National Medical Marijuana Association, representing licensed producers.
“I don’t think it’s a threat to licensed producers and I believe it opens up access to patients as a whole,” he said, adding that there is room for multiple players in the industry, especially with the legalization of marijuana for recreational use on the horizon.
Jeff Jacobson, a spokesperson for Peace Naturals, operating out of Stayner, Ont., said if Shoppers Drug Mart is able to supply marijuana, it will increase access, which will be beneficial to patients.
“As long as it remains patient-centric, we’re thrilled that more Canadians can get access to the treatment that they require.”
Pot producers welcome Shopper’s application for licence | Toronto Star