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New Era for Cannabis NB

Cannabis NB is entering a new era of cannabis retail. With more private stores on the way and the possibility of on-site consumption and new non-traditional revenue streams, there is much to look forward to in New Brunswick’s cannabis industry.

Opening Private Stores

“It has been five years. In 2018, we started retailing cannabis in New Brunswick,” says Lori Stickles, President & CEO at Cannabis NB. “We started with 20 stores but always thought that we would introduce an opportunity for the private sector at some point. We had a few delays along the way, including COVID. We were very happy when we finally got the tenders out and opened the first private stores.”

Legislation was introduced in New Brunswick in late 2021 to allow new forms of retail in the province, including private retail stores. The provincial government began the vetting process for ten new private cannabis stores following a tender process that ended in October 2022.

The first stores opened this past summer and they look noticeably different from government cannabis stores.

“One of the things we really wanted to focus on was obviously safety and having safe access to the product,” Stickles says. “Youth protection is also very important. But we also recognized that a large portion of the population may not want to buy cannabis from what is perceived as a ‘government store.’ Private stores hit on all these marks and they’re able to put their own stamp on it. There are certain requirements the stores have to meet around access, safety, security, etc. Beyond that, they can really create a unique experience for their customers and community.”

The private retailers have seen success so far. “There has been great reception from the community who know them and frequent their other businesses. It has been really fun to see them open,” Stickles notes. Some retailers have already opened up stores in other provinces, while others are first time operators.

More Private Stores Coming

Initially, Cannabis NB went out to tender with ten private store locations and awarded nine. “There is a plan right now for the next grouping of locations and what that may look like. We hope to put that tender out near the end of the fiscal year—sometime before next March,” Stickles explains.

Looking at On-Site Consumption

On-site consumption and other non-traditional revenue streams could also be on the way.

“From the beginning, really, one of the reasons Cannabis NB was established was to compete with the illicit market and offer safe product and youth protection and have more education and awareness around the product,” Stickles says. “We make sure there is a lot of training for our private partners. That will always be our foundation. But we’re looking to move into things like on-site consumption and provide additional avenues for customers to have experiences with cannabis that are safe and responsible and done in ways that are legal.”

Examples could include in-store sampling or down the road things like cannabis cafes, CBD products used in spa treatments, and more.

Future Plans

As Cannabis NB looks to the future, Stickles says, “We’re looking to continue our partnership with the private sector. We’re looking for ways we can get into more communities. As well, we’ve talked about having opportunities for First Nations to work with us in ways that would be mutually beneficial.”

Stickles credits the success Cannabis NB has already had to their team—many of whom have been with the organization since pre-launch and are now celebrating five years on the team.

Image courtesy of Cannabis NB

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