Shop­pers Drug Mart posts for pot man­ager

The Prince George Citizen - - SPORTS - Armina LIGAYA

TORONTO — Shop­pers Drug Mart is look­ing to hire a med­i­cal mar­i­juana brand man­ager as it tries to po­si­tion it­self in the bur­geon­ing cannabis mar­ket, even though it is not cur­rently le­gal to dis­trib­ute the drug through phar­ma­cies.

A job post­ing on the web­site of Canada’s largest phar­macy says the se­nior brand man­ager role will en­tail lead­ing its strat­egy and mar­ket­ing ac­tiv­i­ties to doc­tors and health­care providers in the cannabis space.

“The de­vel­op­ment and in­te­gra­tion of the med­i­cal brand plan will in­volve the con­sid­er­a­tion of the cur­rent cannabis mar­ket; leg­is­la­tion, reg­u­la­tions and ac­cess chal­lenges,” the post­ing reads.

Shop­pers adds that the win­ning can­di­date will also en­sure that its med­i­cal pot mar­ket­ing ma­te­rial is com­pli­ant with Health Canada reg­u­la­tions.

This comes af­ter Shop­pers’ par­ent com­pany, Loblaw Com­pa­nies Ltd. (TSX:L), ap­plied for a Health Canada li­cence to dis­pense med­i­cal mar­i­juana in Oc­to­ber 2016.

Un­der cur­rent fed­eral reg­u­la­tions, the only le­gal dis­tri­bu­tion method for med­i­cal mari- juana is by mail or­der from li­censed pro­duc­ers di­rect to con­sumers.

That means even if the ap­pli­ca­tion gets the green light, it won’t be per­mit­ted to sell med­i­cal mar­i­juana through its stores un­less Ot­tawa re­vises the rules.

Loblaw is pre­par­ing to be ready, said spokes­woman Cather­ine Thomas in an email, and the com­pany be­lieves phar­ma­cists should play a role.

“As the fed­eral and pro­vin­cial gov­ern­ments fi­nal­ize their re­spec­tive cannabis frame­works, we re­main op­ti­mistic that they will al­low phar­ma­cists to ap­ply their pro­fes­sional care to med­i­cal cannabis pa­tients,” she said, adding the com­pany will fol­low all laws and reg­u­la­tions.

The step also comes as the fed­eral gov­ern­ment moves to­wards a July 2018 dead­line to make recre­ational mar­i­juana le­gal.

Loblaw’s CEO and chair­man Galen Weston said last May that he is open to be­ing in­volved with recre­ational mar­i­juana. The com­pany is watch­ing for de­tails about the pro­posed le­gal­iza­tion of the drug, but its fo­cus re­mains on dis­pens­ing med­i­cal cannabis. But in 2016, Weston said the com­pany was only in­ter­ested in med­i­cal cannabis.

Mean­while, other com­pa­nies are also try­ing to get a head start on the po­ten­tial dis­tri­bu­tion of mar­i­juana through phar­ma­cies.

Li­censed pro­ducer Mar­i­cann Group Inc. an­nounced Mon­day that it en­tered into a let­ter of in­tent with Lovell Drugs Lim­ited, which has a dozen phar­ma­cies across On­tario, to be its pri­mary and ex­clu­sive provider of medic­i­nal cannabis for its pa­tients.

“We be­lieve that phar­ma­cies are the best dis­tri­bu­tion points for medic­i­nal cannabis, as is the case for all other pre­scrip­tions,” said Ben Ward, CEO of Mar­i­cann, in a state­ment.

And in March, li­censed pro­duc­ers Can­niMed Ther­a­peu­tics Inc. signed a let­ter of in­tent with mem­ber-owned co-oper­a­tive Phar­maChoice. Un­der the agree­ment, which the com­pa­nies said was the first ex­clu­sive phar­macy dis­tri­bu­tion agree­ment for med­i­cal cannabis, Can­niMed would train Phar­maChoice phar­ma­cists and phar­macy tech­ni­cians across Canada and be­come its ex­clu­sive dis­trib­u­tor of med­i­cal cannabis.

How­ever, the com­pa­nies said the deal is on hold un­til the first leg­is­la­tion change that al­lows phar­ma­cies to dis­trib­ute med­i­cal cannabis, and will be com­pleted within 60 days of that change.

THE CANA­DIAN PRESS FILE PHOTO

This 2013 file photo shows a mar­i­juana bud at the grand open­ing of the Seat­tle lo­ca­tion of the North­west Cannabis Mar­ket. Shop­pers Drug Mart says it has sub­mit­ted an ap­pli­ca­tion to be a dis­trib­u­tor of med­i­cal mar­i­juana.

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