Medical Cannabis distribution through pharmacies could be enabled via the proposed Cannabis Act, so long as the provincial or territorial governments and the provincial colleges of pharmacists allow for it.
This interesting bit of information surfaced during a stakeholder roundtable held yesterday in Ottawa, hosted by Health Canada. While discussing aspects of the new proposed legislation, the lack of pharmacy access for medical cannabis patients came up during the medical cannabis access section of the consultation.
Eric Costen, the Director General of the Cannabis Legalization and Regulation Secretariat, who was hosting the event with Jacqueline Bogden, Assistant Deputy Minister, Cannabis Legalization and Regulation Secretariat, noted that provisions within Bill C-45 would allow for pharmacies to sell medical cannabis from licensed producers if they get the proper provincial or territorial approval.
Any provincially authorized sale by pharmacies would then presumably be subject to the restrictions in section 69 of Bill C-45, which means that pharmacies would not be able to sell medical cannabis to young persons, even if they possess a medical document.
This, of course, caught many of us off guard and raised numerous questions about provincial or federal authority under the Cannabis Act.
Further complicating matters was the presence of representatives from the National Association of Pharmacy Regulatory Authorities (NAPRA) who reiterated NAPRA’s refusal to support pharmacy sales of medical cannabis (at this point in time at least).
It is interesting to see the varying and fragmented positions within the Pharmacy and Pharmacist groups and their divergent positions on Medical Cannabis sales and distribution through Pharmacies. On the one hand, the Canadian Pharmacists Association is supporting Medical Cannabis and wants sales by Pharmacists and outlets like Shoppers Drug Mart and Pharmachoice, who want to be able to dispense and sell Medical Cannabis. On the other hand, it appears that NAPRA and the B.C College of Pharmacists do not want pharmacists to play any role in the sale and dispensing of medical cannabis.
Although this is confusing and raises a host of new questions, it is still great news. Without the inclusion of retail through brick and mortar pharmacies, the medical cannabis program becomes somewhat less important, at least to some patients who could access certain strains in a variety of forms through more direct retail channels, rather than online from licensed producers, as they currently can.
- Deepak Anand
Featured image via Open Grid Scheduler on Flickr.
Deepak Anand is the Vice President of Government Relations at Cannabis Compliance Inc. Mr. Anand previously acted as the Executive Director for the Canadian National Medical Marijuana Association (CNMMA) and Adjunct Professor at Kwantlen Polytechnic University (KPU). Most recently, Mr. Anand was the Vice President of Business Development for Zenabis.