Canadian pharmacy chain applies to dispense medical marijuana

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Canada’s largest pharmacy chain, Shoppers Drug Mart, has formally applied to the federal government to be a distributor of medical marijuana.

If Shoppers Drug Mart is allowed to sell medical marijuana by Health Canada, it would mark a major shift in Canada’s medical marijuana market.

Currently, Canadian medical cannabis patients must either grow their own cannabis or order it from one of the 36 licensed cultivation companies in the country, which then mail it to patients.

Though Shoppers Drug Mart has applied to be a licensed producer, it would not grow its own medical marijuana, CBC News reported. The chain merely wants to sell cannabis through its more than 1,300 brick-and-mortar stores, according to the CBC.

The Globe and Mail reported that the application “is an administrative requirement to be able to distribute the drug.” The newspaper also said Shoppers Drug Mart wouldn’t be able to sell MMJ through its retail outlets unless the federal government updates its medical cannabis regulations.

The news likely will not be welcomed by Canadian dispensaries, which hope to be the main distribution source under recreational legalization.

Canada’s liberal government, led by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, plans to introduce legislation next spring legalizing adult-use marijuana.

More than 75,000 Canadians possessed valid prescriptions for medical marijuana through June, according to government statistics. From April 1 to June 30 this year, patients had purchased more than 4,000 kilograms of dried marijuana.