Shoppers Drug Mart

Should Canadian Pharmacy Kingpin Sell Medical Marijuana?

Shoppers Drug Mart

Shoppers Drug Mart is a pillar of the Canadian retail landscape. It’s a solidly middle-class chain. Moms and Dads stop there when their children have a fever, to pick up a prescription and maybe some Pedialyte. It is regarded as a practical, reputable, and convenient retailer. When one opened on St Laurent Blvd in Montreal about 10 years ago, the local hipsters were actually upset; they’d moved there to avoid such national chains. Is Shoppers Drug Mart, then, the right place to sell medical marijuana in Toronto? For all its benefits, would marijuana sales alienate the chain’s core customer?

Is it effective?

The research is clear: marijuana has many legitimate medical applications. Patients with multiple sclerosis suffer fewer muscle spasms when using it. Some people with Crohn’s Disease see cannabinoids as a cure. When taking them, they report no symptoms, and can avoid using steroids such as cortisone, which has many side effects. Marijuana can be the best option for many patients with legitimate diagnoses.

Form, Function, and Community Acceptance

In Canada, selling medical marijuana at an outlet such as Shoppers Drug Mart could actually be an advantage. Dispensaries in communities like Los Angeles, California have been limited by legislation, with several closing since 2015. In addition to edibles, these stores sell strains that can be smoked. Doctors advertise that they write prescriptions for marijuana. While some seem committed to relieving patient pain and improving quality of life, others seem less than scrupulous. During a visit to California, I was told that I could easily get a “Kush card” by feigning an an anxiety problem. If medical marijuana were, by contrast, sold in a mainstream retail location – dispensed by pharmacy technicians, and scanned by a smiling cashier – the middle class consumer base might be more more readily accepting of it.

Adapting to the Inevitable

There is no reason that Shoppers Drug Mart should not sell marijuana. It has few to no side effects, and many benefits. For patients with wasting diseases, it can stimulate their appetites. Eating makes them stronger and keeps their immune systems in better shape. For those with chronic pain, it can be a godsend. It is often the form marijuana takes, not its medical function, that causes a community to object to its sale. Just last week, a marijuana-derived drug, Epidiolex, was shown to reduce epileptic seizures. Medical marijuana is coming, not only in its whole form, but also in drugs made by pharmaceutical companies. Shoppers Drug Mart will eventually sell it in one form or another. They would be wise to start now, and continue to provide effective service to their customers.



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