Drug Mart, Canada’s largest pharmacy chain, has officially applied to be a distributor of medical marijuana.
"We have applied to be a licensed producer strictly for the purposes of distributing medical marijuana," Shoppers Drug Mart spokeswoman Tammy Smitham told CBC News.
"We have no intention of producing medical marijuana, but we do want the ability to dispense medical marijuana to our patients in conjunction with counselling from a pharmacist."
What has made Drug Mart tap into Canada’s medical marijuana industry?
For a start, more than 75,000 Canadians had valid prescriptions for medical marijuana at the end of June, according to latest government data. This figure has tripled in the past year, and these customers had purchased a total of more than 4,000 kilograms of dried marijuana in the previous three months. The Canadian medical cannabis industry is growing at an impressive 10% per month.
Marijuana use has been gaining public support over the past few years and recreational cannabis use has been legalised in a few of U.S. states.
Mackie Research Capital Corp. forecast peak Canadian marijuana market size to be over $2.5 billion in 2020 (assuming full legalisation down the road). However, some of these sales may be threatened by black market dispensaries.
There are currently 31 federally licensed medical cannabis producers in Canada under Health Canada's Marijuana for Medical Purposes Regulations (MMPR).
Soon, recreational cannabis will be legal too. Canada has announced plans to legalise recreation cannabis in spring 2017.
Leading medical marijuana producers include OrganiGram, Canopy Growth Corporation and Aurora Cannabis Inc.
As Canada have softer laws that the US, American investment in the industry is drawn north of the border. This may increase when recreational cannabis becomes legal too.