Bloomberg News explains why national drugstore chains like CVS and Walgreens can’t currently get into the potentially lucrative medical marijuana business.
While marijuana dispensaries in states where the drug’s medical use is legalized may require a prescription, these businesses are not pharmacies that are registered with the federal Drug Enforcement Agency.
Under federal law, marijuana is still a Schedule I controlled substance, meaning it can’t lawfully be prescribed or dispensed. This is why federal agents occasionally pull raids on dispensaries otherwise deemed legal by the state. And it’s why drugstore chains simply can’t get into the business.
A rep for CVS confirms to Bloomberg that it has no plans to sell medical marijuana because it would violate the company’s registration with the DEA. Without that registration, it wouldn’t be able to operate its pharmacy business.
There currently isn’t much of a profit incentive for drugstores to push for the ability to dispense medical marijuana in these states, as 18 of the states that allow the medical use of pot and its derived products have regulations that only allow for nonprofits to distribute them.
Additionally, while there are numerous forms of marijuana-based products that could eventually be dispensed through a drugstore pharmacy, these products are not going through the federal regulatory approval process for drugs and tobacco products.