Canada’s more than 300,000 medical cannabis patients now have a new ally when filling their prescriptions, with Shoppers Drug Mart unveiling its new e-commerce platform devoted to medical cannabis.

Product information is available nationally, but Shoppers Drug Mart can initially only sell medical cannabis to patients in Ontario.

Patients will be required to take a medical document similar to a prescription to an Ontario pharmacy to begin the process. Specialized advisers will then contact patients, review their medical history and provide support with online registration and product selection.

This is a game changer. Until now, patients had a medical document with a single LP, which restricted them to products that the LP had available.

In September, Health Canada approved Shoppers Drug Mart’s application to become a licensed producer (LP) of medical cannabis under the Access to Cannabis for Medical Purposes Regulations (ACMPR), paving the way for this latest announcement.

Rather than becoming a medical cannabis producer, however, Loblaw Companies Ltd., which owns Canada’s largest drug store chain, partnered with established LPs, including Aphria, Aurora Cannabis, Broken Coast, CanniMed, Emblem, MedReleaf (subsequently acquired by Aurora), Starseed, Tilray Canada and WeedMD Rx.

Shoppers operates 1,300 stores under the Shoppers and Pharmaprix banners and fills more than $1 billion worth of prescriptions each year. It has long claimed that pharmacists are best positioned to dispense medical cannabis because of both their existing infrastructure and their expertise with controlled substances.

Now, the Shoppers Cannabis Care team will work with patients to provide information about the many strains and classes of cannabis and help people choose medical cannabis products and accessories to best suit their needs.

The new online ecommerce platform is further evidence of Shoppers’ ambition to become a significant player in the fast-growing medical cannabis market. For more information, see Shopper’s Drug Mart new site devoted to medical cannabis.