Canadian Underwriter

New Brunswick establishes Crown corporation to oversee non-medicinal cannabis

September 18, 2017   by Canadian Underwriter

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The Government of New Brunswick announced on Friday that a Crown corporation has been established to oversee the sale of non-medicinal cannabis in the province.

The provincial Departments of Finance and Health said in a press release that the government has also secured suppliers of cannabis for the recreational-use market in anticipation of the federal government legalizing such use by July 2018.

Health Minister Benoît Bourque said in the release that the government is “committed to ensuring a seamless approach to the legalization of recreational cannabis, an approach that will prioritize public health and safety concerns. To that end, we have created a new Crown corporation that will help us to achieve that goal and have signed memorandums of understanding with two licensed New Brunswick producers of cannabis in order to secure a supply for our New Brunswick market.”

The two licensed cannabis producers, Organigram and Canopy Growth Corp., will be partnering with the provincial government.

“We are pleased to partner with two local companies to secure a supply for our New Brunswick market in time for the July 2018 launch,” Finance Minister Cathy Rogers said in the release. “In addition, the creation of this new provincial Crown corporation provides the flexibility and lays the groundwork for the eventual retail model once final decisions around that have been made.”

This model aims to ensure that the government maintains full control of the sale of non-medicinal cannabis. The Crown corporation will oversee the business on behalf of the government. It is expected to take other steps in the near future to ensure the retail model is operational in order to meet the federal government’s timelines, the release noted.

The Crown corporation will not directly conduct retail operations but will eventually engage with “another entity or entities” to provide that framework, Rogers added. Those plans will be finalized once the government has had an opportunity to consider the final report of its select committee on cannabis and the final recommendations of the provincial working group.

The government has also committed to working with the public, law enforcement and other partners and stakeholders to implement various public safety and health protections by July 2018.

New Brunswick’s announcement comes just over a week after the Government of Ontario said on Sept. 8 that the Liquor Control Board of Ontario (LCBO) will oversee about 150 standalone cannabis retail stores as part of its “safe and sensible framework” to manage the federal government’s plan to legalize cannabis next July. Attorney General of Ontario Yasir Naqvi, Minister of Finance Charles Sousa and Minister of Health and Long-Term Care Eric Hoskins reported that legislation would be introduced later this fall, following the conclusion of provincewide consultations.

Among Ontario’s proposed framework for marijuana legalization:

  • The proposed minimum age to use, purchase and possess recreational cannabis in Ontario will be 19. The use of recreational cannabis will be allowed in “private residences” and prohibited in public places, workplaces or when inside a motor vehicle;
  • Approximately 150 standalone stores will be opened by 2020, including 80 by July 1, 2019, servicing all regions of the province;
  • Illicit cannabis dispensaries “are not and will not be” legal retailers. The province will pursue a coordinated enforcement strategy, working with municipalities, local police services, the Ontario Provincial Police and the federal government to help shut down these operations; and
  • Ontario will prohibit individuals under the age of 19 from possessing or consuming recreational cannabis, which will allow police to confiscate small amounts of cannabis from young people. The province’s approach to protecting youth will focus on “prevention, diversion and harm reduction without unnecessarily bringing them into contact with the justice system.”

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