WATCH: Guest host Drex asks London Drugs VP of Pharmacy why they should sell medical pot
As the Trudeau government moves slowly and inexorably towards legalizing pot, the question of who should be selling it, how, and where is getting more pressing.
Now some of B.C.’s biggest pharmacies, including Shoppers Drug Mart and London Drugs want in. Would they be a better model?
John Tse, VP of Pharmacy with London Drugs says there’s a good reason pharmacists would make a better source for medical pot than anyone else: safety.
“When we look at it, pharmacies are always helping patients with their healthcare and ensuring they get positive health outcomes. So as a result if this is a medicinal product they’re going to use, they potentially could be using this product along with other drugs. Which there could be interactions, side effects, and we need to be in a position to guide, to help, and to support that patient.”
Tse says having control of the product and knowing its source means a trained pharmacist can diagnose problems. Something that might be a problem if someone was taking prescription drugs at the same time as home-grown medical pot.
“If it’s someone growing in the back yard, we don’t know what’s in it. And should someone have a drug interaction – adverse effects and they ask us, what should we do? We can’t help them, because we don’t know what they’ve consumed.”
So what would a London Drugs dispensary format look like? Would pharmacists be able to give customers guidance on medical effects and the psychoactive high from medical weed the way a “budtender” does now?
Tse says there’s currently not much actual research on marijuana and its pharmacological effects, but that his company is looking into it.
“We’re actively right now engaging industry experts on the effects of marijuana, to provide and develop educational programs for our pharmacists. We’re not quite there yet today, nor is the legislation.”
And what about the product? would it be purely processed, pills, edibles and the like? Or would they sell the dried plant itself?
Tse says London Drugs would stick to the highest grade product, so it would be a matter of what licensed producers are allowed to sell under new regulations.
“We’re a pharmacy, we deal with pharmaceutical companies and pharmaceutical grade products which are heavily regulated and ensure the product is consistent and of top quality of all times.”
While a drug-store marijuana future is still a ways off, there will no doubt be hot competition between the big players to get it to market once the law permits.
Tse says whether London Drugs can beat Shoppers to selling the product will depend on who can organize a roll out more quickly – while making sure it’s still safe for the patient.