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SDM inks medical marijuana supply pact

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EDMONTON, Alberta — Shoppers Drug Mart (SDM) has expanded its access to medical marijuana products by entering into a supply agreement with Aurora Cannabis Inc.

Aurora said that under the pact it will supply SDM with Aurora-branded medical cannabis products. The agreement is pending Health Canada’s approval of the pharmacy retailer’s application to be a licensed producer of medical marijuana for the purposes of distributing it.

Canadian regulations currently restrict the sale of medical marijuana in retail pharmacies, so it’s expected that these products will be sold online, according to Aurora.

“The Shoppers and Aurora brands are trusted to deliver high-quality products and excellent customer service,” Aurora Cannabis chief executive officer Terry Booth said in a statement. “Partnering with Shoppers Drug Mart, Canada’s largest pharmacy retailer, is yet another validation of the scale and maturity of our company and of the demand for Aurora’s medical cannabis.”

In December, two other medical cannabis suppliers — Leamington, Ontario-based Aphria Inc. and Markham, Ontario-based MedReleaf Corp. — announced medical marijuana supply agreements with SDM.

“We have applied to be a licensed producer under Health Canada’s Access to Cannabis for Medical Purposes Regulations (ACMPR). We can’t speculate on if or when our application will be approved. Aurora’s announcement relates to our preparations for what will we hope will be our ultimate approval,” an SDM spokeswoman said in a statement.

“We have been very transparent in our view that pharmacists should play an important role in the safe and informed use of medical cannabis,” she said. “As the federal and provincial governments finalize their respective cannabis frameworks, we remain optimistic that they will allow pharmacists to apply their professional care to medical cannabis patients.”

Aurora Cannabis Enterprises Inc., a wholly owned Aurora subsidiary, is a licensed producer of medical cannabis based on Health Canada’s ACMPR. The company operates a 55,200-square-foot production facility in Mountain View County, Alberta, and a 40,000-square-foot production facility in Pointe-Claire, Quebec.

In January, Aurora obtained a license for Aurora Sky, its 800,000-square-foot flagship cultivation facility at Edmonton International Airport. The company said that Aurora Sky, once at full capacity, stands to produce more than 100,000 kilograms of cannabis annually.

In addition, Aurora is completing a fourth facility in Lachute, Quebec, via its wholly owned subsidiary Aurora Larssen Projects Ltd. Aurora also owns Berlin-based Pedanios, a leading wholesale importer, exporter and distributor of medical cannabis in the European Union.

“Through our wholly owned subsidiary Pedanios, Aurora already supplies a network of more than 2,000 pharmacies in Germany,” Booth added, “and this strategic relationship with Shoppers will further expand our market presence and profile as one of the world’s leading medical cannabis brands.”

Currently, Health Canada has licensed 90 authorized producers of cannabis for medical purposes, led by 48 in Ontario and 16 in British Columbia.

News reports that SDM had made inquiries with medical marijuana suppliers emerged in early 2016. In August of that year, Health Canada announced the ACMPR. Under the rules, Canadians authorized by their health care provider to use cannabis for medical purposes are allowed to produce a limited amount for treatment, designate someone to produce it for them, or buy it from a Health Canada-licensed medical marijuana producer. Patients using medical marijuana also must register with Health Canada.

Canada’s pharmacy industry, however, has expressed some disappointment with ACMPR because the rules stopped short of designating pharmacies as the go-to source for the safe management and dispensing of medical marijuana. Health Canada has said it will continue to assess other models for providing access to cannabis for medical purposes, including pharmacy distribution.


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