To date, New Brunswick is the only province in the Maritimes to openly explore and tout the economic opportunities of marijuana.
Right now, all investment and development is in the medical marijuana sector, which makes sense since that’s the only kind that’s legal. But with recreational marijuana legalization just around the corner, there is the possibility to open up more opportunities for business and economic growth in the province.
But how that plays out will depend on some of the major players involved in the industry in New Brunswick.
Here’s a look at a few of them:
The Government of New Brunswick
Much of the boasting about the industry’s potential for development and investment has come from the provincial government. They have named it as a key component of New Brunswick’s economic strategy and have given several producers financial incentives. Like it or not, it’s these guys who are going to help steer the industry’s direction in the province in both the medical and recreational spaces.
OrganiGram prides itself in offering 100 per cent organic cannabis (despite some recent issues) and non-organic cannabis products as one of Canada’s 43 licensed medical marijuana producers. It is currently the only Health Canada-licensed producer in the province. The company has been expanding and received $990,000 from the government last year in the form of payroll rebates. The company’s chief commercial officer Ray Gracewood has said the company is already exploring how Organigram will fit into the recreational market when it arrives.
Based in Atholville, Zenabis received a $4 million loan from the provincial government to construct its marijuana facility back in August 2016. The Listuguj First Nation Government also contributed $3 million to the project. The facility is expected to be the largest indoor medical marijuana facility in Canada, at 396,000 square feet on a 20-acre site. Construction began in September and is still ongoing.
Once complete, Zenabis will be able to request a pre-licence inspection by Health Canada to produce medical marijuana. If approved, the facility is expected to create more than 200 full-time jobs. Those numbers are expected to grow when recreational marijuana becomes legal. If they don’t receive Health Canada approval, they still have to pay back the loan from the province.
Tidal Health Solutions
Based in St. Stephen, Tidal Health is the third marijuana production company in New Brunswick to set up shop. Under president Dr. Douglas Smith, the company plans to produce and sell its own cannabis products. The company made headlines back in March when it announced its plans to hire 30 to 40 people for its operations. Like Zenabis, Tidal Health Solutions is still waiting for approval of their license from Health Canada.
Collège communautaire du Nouveau-Brunswick (CCNB)
Knowledge is power, especially when it comes to growing good pot. Back in October 2016, CCNB announced its medical marijuana cultivation program that would be tailored to the industry’s needs and will work with Health Canada licensed medical cannabis producers Organigram and Atholville-based Zenabis, when it becomes operational. With the course expected to launch this year, CCNB is the first post-secondary institution to offer this kind of program in Atlantic Canada.
The provincial crown corporation has expressed interest in playing a role in the province’s recreational marijuana industry when the time comes. Though the exact details have yet to be determined, CEO Brian Harriman has said they would consider selling marijuana in their own dispensaries separate from their liquor stores. Given their experience selling a controlled substance, it’s very likely ANBL will play some kind role in New Brunswick’s recreational marijuana market when it finally comes.
St. Thomas University
St. Thomas University in Fredericton recently announced that it will be getting a new research chair in cannabis. The provincial government said the position is believed to be the first of its kind in Canada. The research chair will be tasked with providing data and scholarly interpretation to guide public policy. Research areas could include a comparative analysis between medical and recreational use of cannabis, substance abuse prevention and public health strategies. Shoppers Drug Mart and the New Brunswick Health Research Foundation will contribute $1 million over five years to the project. Shoppers Drug Mart applied back in October 2016 to become a distributor of medical marijuana.