Aphria, the Ontario-based licensed cannabis producer, announced earlier today that it has entered into an agreement to become a medical cannabis supplier to Shoppers Drug Mart.
The agreement will see Aphria supplying Shoppers Drug Mart with branded medical cannabis products.
Subject to Health Canada’s approval of Shoppers Drug Mart’s application to be a licensed producer, the agreement will see Aphria supplying Shoppers Drug Mart with branded medical cannabis products. It’s expected the products will be sold online, as Canadian regulations currently restrict the sale of medical cannabis in retail pharmacies.
“We have an impeccable record cultivating and producing high-quality, medical-grade cannabis,” said Vic Neufeld, CEO of Aphria. “These traits make us a strong partner for an organization looking to serve and support Canadian patients.”
The deal involves medical cannabis only, not adult-use cannabis, which is expected to become legal in Canada in mid-2018.
During a media conference call this afternoon, Aphria CEO Vic Neufeld said his company had been in talks “many months back and forth” with Shoppers Drug Mart executives, “and those were all focused on medical.”
“Recreational has not been part of it,” Neufeld added.
Neufeld also said that Aphria has entered into a time-limited exclusivity agreement with Shoppers. “We’ve given them exclusivity for a certain period of time, with other national pharmacy banners, in excess of a certain size.”
Earlier this year the Globe and Mail revealed that Shoppers executives have been working hard to move Canada’s largest retail pharmacy into the medical cannabis business. From the Feb 23, 2017 report by Grant Robertson and Greg McArthur:
A small team of executives from Shoppers is said to have been touring the sites of medical-marijuana growers over the past several months, holding talks with several of the 29 federally licensed producers. Reached Tuesday, a spokeswoman for Shoppers Drug Mart said the company sees pharmacies as a logical option for selling the drug.
“Pharmacists are medication experts and play a significant role in the prescribing and monitoring of medication to ensure safe and optimal use,” spokeswoman Tammy Smitham said. “We believe that dispensing medical marijuana through pharmacy, like other medications, is the safest option.”
For now, the discussions involve medical marijuana, but the talks come as the federal government is planning to eventually legalize the drug for recreational use. Supply deals with some of the country’s largest legal grow operations, and a licence to distribute the product in pharmacies, could position Shoppers as a major national force should legalization occur.