No decision this summer on New Brunswick cannabis store privatization

A decision to privatize cannabis store sales in New Brunswick will not be made until after the province’s September election.

The province had anticipated executing an agreement in early July, but the pandemic delayed the expected timeline.

New Brunswick has said it intends to hit the reset button on how adult-use cannabis is sold, and it might be willing to pull the plug on at least some of the 20 existing government stores under any new retail system.

“This is not a sale of the existing business, Cannabis NB,” according to the RFP document, “but rather the sale of the rights to operate recreational cannabis retail, wholesale/distribution and e-commerce in the Province of New Brunswick on an exclusive basis over a period of 10 years with two five-year renewal periods.”

Now a decision will not come before the election.

“The decision regarding the sale and distribution of recreational cannabis in (New Brunswick) will be decided by the next government,” according to Jennifer Vienneau, Finance Treasury Board communications director.

Premier Blaine Higgs told the New Brunswick Telegraph-Journal last week that the civil service will continue working on the file through the election period, but the next government will ultimately make the decision “whether to sell it or keep it based on some very solid evaluation of our options.”

New Brunswick’s election is slated for Sept. 14.

New Brunswick received eight proposals to run the province’s adult-use cannabis retail system, including bids from cannabis retailer Fire & Flower and Loblaw, a Canadian supermarket chain.

Cannabis NB posted its second consecutive profitable quarter recently, reporting a gain of 1.4 million Canadian dollars ($1 million) for the period ended June 28.