FREDERICTON (GNB) – A working group comprised of senior officials from three government departments and two Crown corporations will provide recommendations on a model for distribution and retail to the provincial government by this fall on the legalization of cannabis.

“Your government recognizes the opportunities and challenges that will arise with the federal government’s commitment to cannabis legalization,” said Health Minister Victor Boudreau. “We have been working since 2015 in preparation for federal legislation. This new working group will provide us with recommendations and direction on a number of key decisions that will need to be made.”

The provincial working group will release an interim report this summer. In addition, the government will introduce a motion in the legislature to establish a select committee of the legislative assembly to study the issue. The motion will set the mandate of the committee.

The federal Task Force on Cannabis Legalization and Regulation released its report, A Framework for the Legalization of Cannabis in Canada, last December. It includes more than 80 recommendations to the federal government.

The provincial working group is made up of senior officials from the departments of Justice and Public Safety, Health and Finance, as well as the New Brunswick Liquor Corporation and Opportunities NB. The working group will engage with federal officials and consult colleagues in other provincial governments. It is also mandated to assess the risks associated with the legalization of cannabis in New Brunswick and report with recommendations, including:

  • what age should be adopted for cannabis possession;
  • which model for wholesale distribution and retail of cannabis is best for New Brunswick; and
  • what, if any, restrictions or regulations should be imposed by the provincial government, in addition to those that will be imposed by the federal government.

“New Brunswick is already well positioned for the economic development opportunities that cannabis legalization will present,” said Boudreau. “However, it is essential that we strike the right balance by ensuring protections for the well-being of families and children, and address health and public safety concerns.”

In November, the Smoke-Free Places Act was amended to broaden the definition of smoke to any substance that can be smoked, vaped or inhaled, including marijuana.

“We need to get this right,” said Boudreau. “The new working group will continue to listen to stakeholders, engage with experts, and consult with government partners to provide the ideal direction for our province with respect to cannabis legalization.”

More information on the new provincial working group is available online.