Cannabis: private outlets until the end of the year in the NB

Cannabis NB should soon announce the interest of private entrepreneurs wishing to operate their own cannabis shop in New Brunswick.

In November, the government announced it wanted to allow private companies to operate small franchise stores and allow cannabis growers to sell their products from their businesses.

According to Cannabis NB CEO Laurie Stickles, in addition to the 23 different branches that currently exist (the latest of which opened in Grand Falls earlier this week), there is a desire to open at least five private cannabis outlets here by the end of December. .

“We want to open faster, but you must understand that it will take time to help interested entrepreneurs familiarize themselves with all the rules of the business, open their store and receive appropriate training to sell the product.”

Although these new stores are affiliated with Cannabis NB, they will be able to showcase their own brand. However, owners will have to comply with certain regulations, such as alcohol distribution agencies.

“We’re going to explain in our RFP what it takes to be successful, but we’re also going to tell them what we expect from them when they’re in business,” Stickles said.

With that in mind, Ms. Stickles pointed out that the managers of these stores will have to comply with certain provincial and federal laws, such as not opening a store near a school, for example.

Cannabis NB and the Department of Justice and Public Safety will enforce these rules.

“There are many laws that cannabis shop owners must follow and Cannabis NB will guide them through the process. We want them to be successful and offer people safe products.”

“We learned a lot about the layout and operation of small stores, in particular in Grand Falls and Woodstock. We can definitely help them.”

While they will be able to choose the products they want to sell in their store, private entrepreneurs will have to source from Cannabis NB.

“They will be responsible for buying their own equipment and restocking, but we will work with them.”

Retailers will also have to adhere to the price scale set by Cannabis NB.

“We don’t want to create situations that will result in consumers being forced to pay more for their product or prices being too low.”

Tenders for the first ten spots identified by Cannabis NB are expected to be announced in August. The list of potential locations has already been compiled by the organization.

According to Laurie Stickles, private stores will mainly open in places where there is no branch of the Crown Corporation nearby, or in areas where demand requires the opening of another outlet.

“We want to have good representation throughout the province. We are targeting regions where we believe there is a need that will enable our sellers to succeed.”

How to deal with the black market

According to the CEO of Cannabis NB, the main reason for this strategy is to combat the illegal sale of cannabis by “ensuring that customers have access to as many places as possible for a safe and legal product.”

“We know that there are people who do not have a Cannabis NB store nearby, so they prefer not to go to one of our stores. We want to give them more options.”

She is convinced that by eliminating part of the black market, the provincial government will receive significant financial benefits.

“This should help the government economically and create new jobs and new business opportunities in our communities.”

For example, when the Cannabis NB store in Grand Falls recently opened, Ms. Stickles estimated that between 70% and 80% of shoppers who visited the branch purchased cannabis on the black market instead of going to Edmundston or Woodstock.

“It remains an anecdotal situation because we don’t have tangible statistics, but the people who will be coming into the Grand Falls store represent a whole new clientele for us.”

In addition, Laurie Stickles argues that this model will allow the private sector to play a role in the recreational cannabis market.

“The question was not about opening more and more branches, but about creating partnerships with the private sector.”

The legalization of cannabis in Canada went into effect in October 2018. Ms Stickles acknowledges there have been some hurdles, but she believes a shift to private retailers is now more viable.

“We have learned a lot. Initially, some jurisdictions sent everything to private shops and many lost their business. At that time, the industry was not mature enough, but we believe that the market is more stable now.”

In its first fiscal year (2018-1919), Cannabis NB posted a loss of $12.5 million. The next year (2019-2020) was more profitable, but still ended with a deficit of $4.3 million. The state-owned company made its first profit in 2020-2021. They amounted to about 10.8 million dollars. In March, Acadie Nouvelle reported that Cannabis NB had paid off all of its debt and was now profitable. Budget projections for 2021–22 at the time suggested a profit of at least $16 million.

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