Pharmacies angling for role in marijuana sales
Published Wednesday, February 24, 2016 4:49PM PST
Last Updated Wednesday, February 24, 2016 8:11PM PST
As Canada moves toward legalizing marijuana, pharmacies are positioning themselves as a practical outlet for dispensing the drug – at least for medical purposes.
Pharmacists’ expertise in prescription drug management makes them well-suited to dispense medical marijuana, the Neighbourhood Pharmacy Association of Canada said Wednesday.
London Drugs, a NPAC member with 78 stores across Western Canada, told CTV News it’s already working to prepare its pharmacists for dealing with pot users.
“Marijuana has pharmacological properties, and it could potentially interact with other drugs and medications that patients could be using,” said John Tse, vice-president of pharmacy and cosmetics for the company.
“As a result, we need to gather as much available information as we can and equip our pharmacists with that knowledge.”
Not all pharmacies are as keen on weed, however. Rexall said it’s not currently exploring any initiatives related to medical marijuana.
Shoppers Drug Mart, which has more than 1,300 locations across the country, didn’t confirm how it’s approaching marijuana Wednesday, but the company did put forth the argument that pharmacists could help ensure the drug is used safely.
“We believe that dispensing medical marijuana through pharmacy, like other medications, is the safest option,” a spokesperson said in an email.
Ottawa hasn’t laid out a clear timeline for its marijuana legislation, but Tse said pharmacies are already providing the federal government with input as it works out a plan.
Medical pot is already legal in Canada, but only for patients who undergo what the government describes as a “strict and rigorous” application process. Under current Health Canada regulations, patients must also get pot directly from a licensed producer – though a federal court judge struck down a ban on patients growing their own cannabis Wednesday morning.
The Liberal government has promised to make the drug legal for recreational use, not just medical. Tse said pharmacists will have to wait until more details are available to determine where they might fit in distribution.
“When the federal government does that and creates legislation and framework, we fully anticipate we will be ready to support the public that needs it on a medical basis,” Tse said.
With a report from CTV Vancouver’s Scott Hurst and files from The Canadian Press