This is a timely article.
During a podcast recording yesterday, I went off on our federal government for their treatment of medical cannabis consumers. No, they’re not beating them. But the application of an excise tax identical to recreational consumption effectively ‘merges’ the two supply streams.
Medical users has long been diminished by both Canadian and US legislators. ‘Medical’ exemptions/use were seen by opponents as a stalking horse for recreational use, and as such, lowered the perceived need for such exemptions. Often, it was used to raise the bar to qualify.
This has been changing as cannabis use becomes more widespread and a relative ‘normalization’ of the plant began. Medical use is accepted in more than half of the US (33 states), and recreational is now live in 11, with another few having a decision put to voters this fall.
In Canada, there’s been relative ambivalence to medical. “Hey, we made it legal, what’s your problem? You can still get medical, you got what you wanted”. Well, if medical consumers wanted a $1 fixed per gram tax and milligram limits on unit doses, I certainly don’t recall medical users mentioning it. Because they didn’t.
Queue up a monster of retail daily life in Canada (Shoppers Drug Mart, or SDM, under the ownership of Loblaw’s $L ) – who has established a national study and feedback system that matches symptoms to chemical/cultivar profiles, and tracks alleviation of those symptoms. Nationally.
A medical ‘game changer’? Perhaps. I doubt many long time patients will run to these stores right away, but this represents a move towards ‘normalization’ for the mass market that’s got far more heft than the titters and nudge-winks of joining your uncle out back before Thanksgiving dinner.
Simple access to purchase – within a known and relatively trusted brand of healthcare – will offer far more opportunity to expand beyond current consumers and legitimize cannabis use to many who would never walk into a recreational setting. Where, they couldn’t get any advice on medical use anyway.
Some folks see Shopper’s listing cannabis as a potential threat to some companies. The State Monopolies have already come and confiscated higher value online sales. If SDM can penetrate medical, LPs might see patients switching. I see SDM as mainly reaching folks who want advice from professionals. Science is a good thing. And here’s hoping for a raft of data that will chip away at the many anecdotal and urban myths that the legacy market has installed over the decades of prohibition.
I for one celebrate this approach to the science and the pharmacology of cannabis. It’ll expand potential use into demographics that have historically been reluctant to engage without a formal setting and credentialed staff.
Hey, what’s in a name? Shoppers Drug Mart.
It says it right there.
The preceding is the opinion of the author, and is in no way intended to be a recommendation to buy or sell any security or derivative. The author holds no position in $L.