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Report on Business Cannabis Professional Shoppers’ move into medical pot, HelloMD partnership, shines light on pharmacy rivals

HIGHLIGHTS
  1. HelloMD to give medical cannabis advice for Shoppers Drug Mart
  2. Delta 9 sees pharmacies integrating into medical pot distribution
  3. London Drugs positions pharmacy for medical cannabis foothold

HelloMD has partnered with Shoppers Drug Mart to give online patients access to medical cannabis advice, the California-based company said this week, the latest move within the Canadian pharmacy business that aims to increase revenue through pot sales.

Shoppers is the only pharmacy in Canada that has completed the lengthy licensing process and start selling medical marijuana online in Alberta and Ontario, but the industry is closely watching the opportunities this segment holds, with some licensed producers betting that drug stores will take on significant market share.

In April, licensed producer and retailer Delta 9 said it believes pharmacies will be integrated long-term into the distribution chain for medical cannabis products. The Manitoba-based company signed a non-binding letter of intent with Pharmasave Drugs to become a preferred supplier of medical pot, even as Delta 9 runs its own cannabis clinics.

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London Drugs, which operates pharmacies in Canada’s four western provinces, is not licensed to sell medical marijuana but is positioning itself to build a foothold in the industry by training staff to educate and advise patients on aspects such as dosage and strains that can then be prescribed by doctors.

“A pharmacy can apply to sell medical cannabis under the medical sales licence category and that is how a pharmacy would be able to sell out of a central site direct to consumer. Pharmacies cannot sell out of their individual stores or send it there for patients to pick up. London Drugs is considering all options,” said Chris Chiew, general manager of Pharmacy for London Drugs.

“We continue to help patients through education and help guide patients through their medical cannabis therapeutic journey using our Medical Cannabis Educators. We also continue to advocate to the federal and provincial governments to allow pharmacies to dispense directly to patients as we do with all other drugs.”

One of Canada’s other big pharmacy companies, U.S.-owned Rexall, appears to be treading cautiously into future opportunities in medical cannabis.

“McKesson Canada and Rexall are committed to ensuring a secure and accessible supply chain for pharmaceutical products across the country. We have educated our pharmacists and staff on medical cannabis and have made available information and resources for patients,” said Darius Kuras, spokesperson for McKesson Canada.

The Ontario College of Pharmacists recently announced it will make cannabis education mandatory in pharmacies by March, 2020. The regulatory body in Canada’s biggest province said it opposes any smoked forms of medical cannabis being distributed by pharmacies, according to its website.

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