Pharmacy distributors want in on Canada's legalized marijuana regime

Marijuana

The federal government's plans for legalizing recreational marijuana has many would-be players looking to carve out a role for themselves in the emerging market, including pharmaceutical distributors who already ship drugs across the country.

The Canadian Association for Pharmacy Distribution Management – a supplier of medicine for pharmacies and hospitals – says it has a ready-made system for marijuana distribution that they say is far superior to mail-order pot.

Pharmaceutical distributors offer a more appropriate vehicle for the recreational marijuana market, CEO David Johnston said in an interview Wednesday, noting they already have the infrastructure in place to handle potential recalls, be it in downtown Toronto or remote northern Ontario.

"Pharmaceutical products (are) being shipped across this country and being delivered by the pharmaceutical distributors, so we feel like we are a natural partner in the movement of marijuana, both medical and recreational, to whatever its final access point is," Johnston said.

"That's a detail that's not known yet."

The federal government plans to have an established regime for legalized marijuana by July 2018, but will be requiring provincial and territorial governments to play a critical role on issues including licensing, distribution and retail sales.

More discussions can unfold with federal and provincial officials now that the Liberal government fired up the process last week when it tabled its long-awaited marijuana legislation, Johnston added.

"There are ... difficult and complicated questions that need to be answered around the legalization of marijuana both medically and recreationally," he said.

"What we are suggesting is: here is a very complex section where you already have a ... proven solution."

On Thursday, hundreds are expected to flock to Parliament Hill to take part in "4/20" celebrations – an annual, highly visible display of support for legal marijuana that takes place in various locales around the world.