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Private Cannabis NB Stores?

Legislation was introduced in New Brunswick that will allow new forms of retail in the province, including private retail stores and farmgate stores. The private stores will be “mini-versions” of already existing Cannabis NB stores but grow the legal market enough to, hopefully, combat the illicit market.

Bill 79: An Act Respecting the Retail Sale of Cannabis

Finance Minister Ernie Steeves introduced a bill yesterday that will amend the Cannabis Management Corporation Act (CMCA), as well as enact a new bill, the Cannabis Retailers Licensing Act (CRLA).

Now, the CMCA reads that a person licensed under the CRLA can enter into an agreement with Cannabis NB to sell licensed cannabis products.

Under the CRLA, a person is eligible to apply for a license if they are 19 or older, haven’t committed a criminal offence in the last five years, and have never been associated with any criminal organizations.

Like many other provinces, an extensive background check, including a criminal record check, financial history, an investigation of how financing was obtained, and even an investigation on the history of the intended location, will be conducted before an application is approved.

Even if all of these requirements are met, however, an application may be refused for false or missing information, if the store isn’t in the public’s best interest, or if the Minister doesn’t believe the applicant is capable of running a store in accordance with the CRLA.

According to Steeves, the private stores will work almost like franchisees.

“It’s an agency location, and it’ll just be a small version of what we have already,” Steeves told reporters after bringing up the legislation. “It won’t be in corner stores, it won’t be [in] gas stations or anything like that. It will be a standalone store, and it’ll be a mini version of what we have right now.”

The Rules

The CRLA reads like most other regulations across the country, however, private retailers are not allowed to deliver or send orders through the mail, and licenses are non-transferrable. On top of that, all employees have to undergo a criminal record check as well, and any changes to the building or operating procedures, as well as any new locations, have to be approved by the Minister.

This expanding access is being enacted in an effort to stem the tide of the illicit market, which Cannabis NB says is not only providing unsafe products but taking profits and economic growth away from New Brunswick’s quickly swelling legal cannabis industry.

“We are excited about future opportunities for the cannabis industry in New Brunswick, and looking forward to determining the best way forward to ensure education and access to safe regulated products to consumers,” Cannabis N.B. and Alcool N.B. Liquor spokesperson Thomas Tremblay told CBC.