Canada’s largest drug store chain has applied to be a licenced producer of medical marijuana, another sign that pharmacies are interested in playing a major role in a growing industry.
“We really wanted to focus on the need for pharmacists to be involved in clinical oversight,” spokesperson Phil Emberley explained to Global News earlier this month. “We know that these medications are potent, we know that marijuana is potent and that there can be drug interactions with medical marijuana.”
“The other reason to have it available through pharmacies is that pharmacies can potentially have it paid for through a third party payer. If a physician prescribes it, a pharmacist dispenses it, then their insurance program could potentially pay for it, which I don’t think is going to be possible on the recreational side.”
The Canadian Medical Association, on the other hand, still has its doubts about medical marijuana:
“The CMA still believes there is insufficient scientific evidence available to support the use of marijuana for clinical purposes,” the organization said in a recent statement. “It also believes there is insufficient evidence on clinical risks and benefits, including the proper dosage of marijuana to be used and on the potential interactions between this drug and other medications.”
The CMA did not respond to a request for comment Monday.
“Placing marijuana in pharmacies could lend it credibility as a pharmaceutical medication, whereas placing it in liquor stores would send the message that it needs strict and formal controls,” it said in its submission to the commission.
Shoppers’ move toward the medical pot market raises larger questions about medical marijuana after recreational marijuana is legalized. Medical marijuana was a carefully carved out exception to allow something that was otherwise illegal. If it’s not illegal any more, what’s the point of the exception?
Colorado, where recreational use has been legal for several years, continues to register medical marijuana users for tax reasons — medical users don’t have to pay taxes that apply to recreational pot. But medical and recreational users buy much the same product.