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New Brunswick pulls plug on privatizing cannabis sales


March 19, 2021
By The Canadian Press

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The New Brunswick government has decided not to privatize recreational cannabis sales.

In a news release on March 19, Premier Blaine Higgs says the province will continue with the government-run Cannabis NB model for all of the province’s cannabis sales.

The province issued a request for proposals in November 2019 looking for private companies interested in taking over the provincial Crown corporation.

Eight companies, including Loblaw Companies Ltd. and Canopy Growth, came back with proposals, though today’s release says the government cannot say who the top contenders were due to privacy concerns.

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Higgs says his government concluded it would stick with its Cannabis NB model after discussions with the highest-ranked candidate.

The Crown corporation lost almost $12 million in its first six months after launching in October 2018, but Finance Minister Ernie Steeves says steadily improving sales showed the state-run model could succeed.

“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,” Steeves said in the release.