Article by Sunny Freeman, Financial Post
Medical marijuana producer CanniMed Therapeutics Inc. is getting a head start on distributing cannabis through pharmacies, becoming the first licensed producer to sign an agreement with a national pharmacy chain, even though the model is still illegal.
CanniMed announced Thursday it has signed a letter of intent with PharmaChoice, a member-owned cooperative, that gives CanniMed exclusive distribution privileges at PharmaChoice stores in exchange for CanniMed’s provision of training. Educational training will start soon, but the distribution agreement is on hold indefinitely. It will be completed within 60 days of the first legislation change that allows for pharmacy distribution of marijuana.
Currently, mail order is the only legal distribution method for medical marijuana but a federal task force report on the legalization of marijuana recommended the government also consider allowing sales at storefront locations. Legislation on marijuana reform, including a legal recreational market, is expected this year. Provincial laws would also need to be changed to allow for pharmacy distribution.
“Our sense of this is that distribution within pharmacies is imminent,” said Brent Zettl, President and CEO of CanniMed.
“We think it’s not an ‘if’ it’s a ‘when’ question and to get ahead of that we need to start helping to educate the pharmacists.”
Zettl is confident that governments will have to open medical marijuana distribution channels due to the sheer number of medical marijuana patients in Canada, totalling more than 100,000, will require more options. Canaccord Genuity analysts have projected the medical marijuana market will grow to some 160,000 patients and be worth $1.8 billion by 2021.