Cannatrek has signed an exclusive supply deal for its CBD products and services with Australia’s largest pharmacy chain, Chemist Warehouse, with the retailer receiving equity in the medicinal cannabis company.

Under the agreement, Cannatrek will work with Chemist Warehouse to develop and bring new products to market on an exclusive basis under one of the Chemist Warehouse brands. The pharmacy already dispenses Cannatrek’s THC products.

The deal covers Australia and New Zealand, but may be expanded to include stores in China, Ireland and other countries where Chemist Warehouse operates.

Cannatrek will also train and educate Chemist Warehouse pharmacists about the benefits, potential issues and applicability of medicinal cannabis products for a range of illnesses including pain, inflammation, anxiety and insomnia.

It will install touch-screen devices in stores to answer consumer enquiries about their eligibility to access medicinal cannabis and become Chemist Warehouse’s exclusive telehealth partner for medicinal cannabis, working alongside current general telehealth partner Instant Consult.

The terms of the equity agreement were not disclosed, but Chemist Warehouse will be granted a small stake in Cannatrek upfront with additional equity earned if targets are met.

Chemist Warehouse chairman and co-founder Jack Gance and Cannatrek CEO and founder Tommy Huppert.

Cannatrek CEO and founder Tommy Huppert said the agreement was a game-changer for both Cannatrek and Australian consumers.

“Not only will we provide Chemist Warehouse with low-dose CBD products to be sold to consumers over-the-counter given the recent decision by the TGA, but we will work with them to develop new products. 

“The ultimate winner will be Australian consumers, who will get access to high-quality medicinal cannabis products via a visit to Australia’s largest pharmacy chain, which has Australia-wide distribution.”

Huppert said Cannatrek will continue to educate Australian doctors about the benefits and limitations of medicinal cannabis. 

“We will continue to run education programs together with our partners including Chemist Warehouse. This is all about raising the comfort factor among doctors and specialists in Australia, to make medicinal cannabis more mainstream and available to patients.”

Chairman and co-founder of Chemist Warehouse Jack Gance added: “The creation and dispensing of over-the-counter medicinal cannabis products is a natural progression for Chemist Warehouse.

“I am delighted that the TGA has agreed to allow CBD to be sold over the counter in a controlled environment via pharmacies. Our goal is to be able to provide the best, safest and best-priced medications to help our loyal customer base.”

“We have seen what has been happening in this space in the US and Canada; it is important that we partner with a reliable medicinal cannabis producer with whom we can work to develop new products.”

Both parties said they hope the products are available to the general public quickly.

Referring to the TGA’s decision to down schedule low-dose CBD, which came into force this week, Huppert told the Australian Financial Review: “In the US and the UK it’s like vitamin C over the counter. This new change in legislation is extremely exciting for the industry.”

“We’re just four years in. The first year was licensing and compliance, then companies like us started building farms. This year you’ll see the supply chain mature considerably.

“In the immediate future it will be far more mainstream. And we’ve got thousands of doctors in Australia prescribing it now.”

Chemist Warehouse is Australia’s largest pharmacy chain by sales, with more than 450 stores in Australia and New Zealand and more than $6 billion of Australia’s $16 billion retail pharmacy market.

Prior to launching Cannabiz, Martin was co-founder and CEO of Asia-Pac’s leading B2B media and marketing information brand Mumbrella, overseeing its sale to Diversified Communications in 2017. A journalist...