New Brunswick won’t privatize recreational cannabis sales

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New Brunswick discontinued its request for proposal (RFP) process for the privatization of recreational cannabis sales, meaning the province will retain the government-owned and -operated store model through Cannabis NB.

New Brunswick requested proposals in 2019 for a single operator to run its cannabis retail system.

However the move was met with skepticism, with opponents noting it would have the effect of replacing a government-run monopoly with a private-sector monopoly.

New Brunswick’s decision, announced Friday morning, comes almost a year later than anticipated.

The province originally envisioned executing an agreement around July 3, 2020, but Cannabis NB’s successive profitable quarters since then gave the government second thoughts.

“Discussions with the top-ranked proponent have concluded and our government has decided that the best approach for New Brunswickers is to continue with the Cannabis NB model that is now in place,” Premier Blaine Higgs said in a statement.

The identity of the top-ranked proponent was never disclosed.

Cannabis NB has generated profits in four consecutive quarters.

“While we were pleased with the level of interest and engagement from the private sector, Cannabis NB’s performance over the past few months, as well as careful consideration of the social and economic implications of the retail model, has given us confidence that New Brunswick taxpayers and consumers can be well served through continued improvements within the current model,” Finance Minister Ernie Steeves said.

New Brunswick had received eight proposals to run the province’s adult-use cannabis retail system:

  • Canopy Growth.
  • Fire & Flower.
  • Green Stop Cannabis.
  • Kiaro Brands.
  • Loblaw Cos.
  • New Brunswick Association of Cannabis Distributors.
  • RSL NB.
  • YSS Corp.