Canada’s pharmacists push to be main marijuana distributor

Representatives of the pharmacy industry argue that the government should give them the frontline role

Canada’s pharmacists push to be main marijuana distributor
Marijuana legalization could be in place by next summer, and the federal government has some important decisions to make. Aside from who gets to use the substance and who gets to produce it, the role of distributor has yet to be cast — and pharmacists are pushing to get the part.

Several entities representing Canadian pharmacists have lobbied to be distributors of marijuana throughout the country, reports Cantech Letter.  Last year, Shoppers Drug Mart formally applied to be a distributor of medical cannabis, saying that it would ensure both the safety and quality of the product. Patients would also have the chance to consult with a pharmacist about their prescription, the chain said.

Following the introduction of new marijuana legislation in the House of Commons, the Canadian Pharmacists Association (CPA) asserted that pharmacists should play the frontline role in managing and dispensing marijuana.

More recently, the Canadian Association for Pharmacy Distribution Management (CAPDM), whose members supply drugs to pharmacies and hospitals, argued that it would be the best choice in getting cannabis from producer to seller, whether for medical or recreational purposes.

“Pharmaceutical distributors already store and transport controlled substances in secure and temperature-controlled warehouses and vehicles to maintain product integrity,” CAPDM President and CEO David Johnson told the Hill Times.

Marijuana sales are expected to result in $5 billion in annual taxes. A 2016 CIBC report estimates the pot industry could produce $10 billion yearly in total revenue.

The Canadian Medical Cannabis Industry Association (CMCIA), which represents most of the licensed producers in Canada, has opposed the CPA’s call. “Pharmacy should not be the sole means for patients to receive their medical cannabis, since this would harm patient access, product choice and affordability,” the group said in a statement.

Representing the Cannabis Friendly Business Association, Abi Roach also spoke out against corporations’ efforts to take a major part in pot distribution and sales.

“The fact that they want to shut out small business for big business is ridiculous,” she told the Cannabis Life Network. “If we were selling vegetables it would be the same thing — are you going to close down every vegetable market and allow Loblaws to have a monopoly on selling vegetables? No you wouldn’t, that’s insane.”

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