FREDERICTON (GNB) – The provincial government announced today that NB Liquor will operate recreational cannabis retail operations in New Brunswick, through a subsidiary.

“Your government is prioritizing public health and safety concerns as we move towards the legalization of recreational cannabis,” said Health Minister Benoît Bourque. “We have listened to New Brunswickers and we want to ensure that cannabis stays out of the hands of criminals and youth. By having NB Liquor operate the retail spaces this will help us achieve these goals.”

Through a subsidiary, the corporation will operate recreational cannabis retail operations in stand-alone stores. They will operate under the business rules, terms and conditions established by the Crown corporation mandated to oversee, conduct and manage the retailing of recreational use cannabis in New Brunswick.

“Our priorities are clear and we believe that today’s announcement is the best model to help us meet our objectives,” said Finance Minister Cathy Rogers. “Advice we have heard from other jurisdictions that have legalized cannabis, like Colorado and Washington, is to start with tight government oversight, which is what we are doing. NB Liquor has experience in the retail market and we believe their knowledge and expertise will provide a smooth transition into this new market.”

NB Liquor has issued a tender for potential locations in order to be ready to ensure a retail system for recreational cannabis. There will be up to 20 retail locations, in 15 communities. Online sales will also be available to ensure distribution and accessibility provincewide. Additional locations will be rolled out based upon market capacity and demand.

“NB Liquor is proud to have been chosen to be the retailer of recreational cannabis and this is a responsibility we take very seriously,” said Brian Harriman president and CEO. “There is much work left to do to define the details on how we will execute against our mandate from the provincial government. Now that we have a clear mandate as the retailer, we will work diligently to ensure we focus on operation of the retail network in a manner that promotes social responsibility and responsible consumption. This is an area where we will draw upon our experience and proven track record. This model will operate with more regulation and control than our retail network of liquor stores, but it will still be a pleasant shopping experience for the people of New Brunswick. We feel confident that this model will support the federally stated objectives of legalization.”

Rogers said that the government is committed to working with the public, law enforcement and other partners and stakeholders to implement various public safety and health protections in anticipation of the federal government legalizing recreational cannabis in July 2018.

The government will introduce necessary legislative amendments related to the legalization of cannabis in the upcoming legislative session.