FREDERICTON (GNB) – The provincial government has issued a request for proposals (RFP) for a single private operator to undertake the operation, distribution and sales of recreational cannabis in New Brunswick.

“This is part of our efforts to energize the private sector, get our financial house in order and maximize the benefits for taxpayers and the government,” said Finance and Treasury Board Minister Ernie Steeves. “After a careful and thorough review of the current business model for the sale of recreational cannabis and an analysis of alternative options, we came to the conclusion that the best approach for New Brunswick taxpayers and government is to turn to the private sector.”

Interested proponents will have until Jan. 10, 2020 to submit proposals. 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 for 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.

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 calendar year.

The government will bring amendments to the New Brunswick Liquor Corporation Act to the legislative assembly later in the fall. Additional legislative amendments to further protect public health and security could be introduced at a later date, once further details of the potential new business model are confirmed.

“Our mandate is to protect New Brunswick families and communities and we take this responsibility seriously,” said Public Safety Minister Carl Urquhart. “My department will continue to be engaged in the discussion, particularly once the government receives proposals from the private sector. The RFP includes several mandatory requirements to ensure proposals will effectively combat the illicit market.”

“We believe that the government’s role should be to regulate and protect the health and well-being of our residents,” said Steeves. “That is why our government has identified the single private operator model as the best approach to balance both the public protection and financial interest objectives for the province. Some retail activities, such as the sale of recreational cannabis, are areas where we believe the private sector is a better option. We anticipate strong interest in the request for proposal and look forward to working with the proponent who will propose a business model that focuses on public health, education and safety and offers the best value for the New Brunswick taxpayers.”

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.

Energizing the private sector and an affordable and responsive government are among the government’s key priorities. More information about government’s priorities and measurements is available online.