FREDERICTON (GNB) – The provincial government has introduced amendments to the Liquor Corporation Act to facilitate the potential change of direction for the operation, distribution and sale of recreational cannabis in the province.

“As we announced last week, we are seeking interest from the private sector to undertake the operation, distribution and sale of recreational cannabis,” said Finance and Treasury Board Minister Ernie Steeves. “Amendments are required to the act to allow for a smooth transition from the public to the private sector. These amendments are important as it signals to the private sector how serious the government is about this opportunity.”

The amendments would permit the government to remove the legal authority from NB Liquor to sell recreational cannabis through Cannabis NB. The amendments would only come into effect following the signing of an agreement with a private sector operator and would subsequently trigger the winding down of Cannabis NB operations.

The request for proposals (RFP) for a single private operator was launched Nov. 14. Private operators have until Jan. 10 to submit proposals. The proposals will be evaluated through an open, fair and accountable process overseen by a third-party fairness monitor. The exercise could see the announcement of the successful single private operator in spring 2020, with transition to the new delivery model later in the year.

“Hard-working New Brunswickers expect us to be prudent with their money,” said Steeves. “Our decision to turn the sale of recreational cannabis over to the private sector will ensure that the business model in place offers the best value for the taxpayers and maximizes the economic benefits for government.”

The government is seeking proponents who have demonstrated experience in the sale of recreational cannabis, the financial capacity to develop and sustain operations, and a viable plan to combat the illegal market and deliver high-quality service to consumers through price competitiveness and product diversity. The successful proponent must also submit an attractive financial offer to obtain the sales rights for this product. Proposals will also be reviewed on their approach to building strong direct and indirect partnerships with local entrepreneurs and First Nations.

To access the RFP document, interested participants must register and download the documents through the NBON Opportunities website. Technical support is available from the NBON helpdesk at nbon@snb.ca or by calling 1-800-561-1422.