(This story has been updated from an earlier version to reflect Finance Minister Cathy Rogers’ comments.)
The New Brunswick government plans to sell recreational marijuana through a network of 20 stand-alone nonprofit stores in 15 communities that will be owned and operated by a subsidiary of the Crown corporation NB Liquor, but Finance Minister Cathy Rogers didn’t rule out private sector participation “down the road.”
“We didn’t start out letting the private sector sell alcohol,” Rogers said to CBC News, referring to the province’s alcohol model that now allows for some private sector outlets.
For now, the proposed model effectively blocks the private sector from capitalizing on the province’s adult-use retail industry when legal MJ sales begin across Canada, which is expected to occur next summer.
The move hardly comes as a surprise. In September, a provincial task force recommended that recreational marijuana be sold through government-run stores.
Two weeks later, the province signed separate supply agreements with Organigram and Canopy Growth for a combined 100 million Canadian dollars ($82 million) worth of cannabis per year.
New Brunswick recently issued a tender for “leased premises,” which should be 3,000 square feet in size, not attached to the agency’s liquor stores and “substantially completed” by May 31, 2018.
The province has made marijuana a pillar of its economic strategy, dangling financial incentives to lure producers, funding research chairs at universities and helping create a community college program.
The only other province to officially unveil its retail model so far has been Ontario, which also plans to sell recreational marijuana through a government-run corporation.
Quebec also looks set to unveil its plan to sell recreational cannabis in government-run stores.