New Brunswick has announced that it will give its liquor board full control of the province’s cannabis distribution and retail framework.
A subsidiary of NB Liquor will manage a network of 20 stand-alone stores in 15 different towns, each approximately 2,500 square feet in size. Stores are expected to be ready in time for the federal deadline of July 2018.
New Brunswick finance minister Cathy Rogers told the media on Wednesday that the Crown corporation ‘has the experience in the retail market selling a regulated substance,’ and that with their knowledge, she expects a ‘smooth transition’ into legalization.
Similar to regulations in Vancouver, stores will not be permitted within 300 metres of schools. They also won’t display graphics or advertising.
While the province has yet to set the legal age for cannabis consumption, NB Liquor president Brian Harriman said employees will check identification at a reception area in each shop. No one under the legal age will be allowed on the premises, he said.
Consumers will be able to view products through a glass case, and unlike shopping in a liquor store, each one would be served on a one-on-one basis, for what Harriman called a ‘highly consultative and supportive’ experience.
In September, New Brunswick signed multi-million dollar deals with two licensed producers to supply the province’s stores.
The first, Organigram, operates out of Moncton, and said in a news release last month that it would ‘allocate approximately 25 percent of anticipated production to support the adult recreational market in New Brunswick.’ It has committed to supplying the province with at least 5 million grams per year, worth $40 million to $60 million annually.
Smith Falls, Ontario-based Canopy Growth Corporation signed a two-year deal with the province, and said it would supply another 4 million grams worth of cannabis and cannabis products in the first year.
At that time, Rogers said that cannabis would be ready for the retail market in New Brunswick by July 1, 2018. Ministers clarified in a question period that it was likely the province would sign deals with additional producers.