Canada’s Arthritis Society is using the build up to the federal election to lobby parties for medicinal cannabis to be sold at pharmacies.

Patients currently have to find specific dispensaries or source cannabis direct from suppliers in the mail, which can prove to be a convoluted process. The Arthritis Society argues that it would be simpler and easier for Canadians to be able to visit their local pharmacy and receive the necessary dose, just like other prescription medicines.

Under current regulations, pharmacies like Shoppers Drug Mart can only sell medicinal cannabis online and not in stores. The Arthritis Society wants to see power handed over to brick-and-mortar pharmacies featuring trained healthcare professionals.

“That will ensure that patients receive reliable education from trained health care professionals on the safe and effective use, and they also have an understanding of the other medications their patients may be taking,” said the society’s executive director for Atlantic Canada, Jone Mitchell.

Some patients are licensed to grow their own cannabis, but many are not, and it is not practical for all patients to do so.

The Arthritis Society is also lobbying federal parties in an effort to convince them to commit to scrapping a $1 per gram federal excise duty on medical cannabis, which adds considerably to patients’ costs over the course of the year.

The Liberal Party, the New Democrats, the Conservative Party and the Green Party have not laid down concrete plans surrounding marijuana yet, although the Greens have pledged to do away with the $1 federal excise tax. The election is just five days away and the Arthritis Society is hoping some parties will see making concessions on cannabis as a simple vote winner in the days before Canadians go to the polls.

Elsewhere, cannabis edibles and topicals will be legalized in Canada for recreational purposes from tomorrow, and the first products are expected to hit shelves by mid-December at the latest. Licensed producers can apply to have their products sold on the market from tomorrow, and a 60- to 90-day approval and procurement process will the begin, while retailers are expected to begin working on inventories in the meantime.