New Brunswick’s Liberal leader says he won’t sell Cannabis NB if he wins September election

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Kevin Vickers isn’t giving up on marijuana.

At a campaign stop in Saint John this week, the leader of the New Brunswick Liberal Party told voters that he would halt the government’s plans to privatize the provincially owned Cannabis NB if he becomes premier in September, according to Country 94.

“We’re seeing a trending upwards of profits,” Vickers said. “I am told by sources that those profits will rise exponentially in the next little while.”

New Brunswickers head to the polls on Sept. 14 — the first election to be held in Canada during the COVID-19 — after Premier Blaine Higgs asked the Lt.-Gov. Brenda Murphy to dissolve the legislature on Monday and announced the date of the election.

As New Brunswick mulls at least eight separate private-sector applications to purchase the province’s cannabis sales and distribution business, an increase in sales by the agency might have the incoming government reconsidering the transaction altogether.

Patrick Parent, president and CEO of Cannabis NB, said he believes that the provincial agency will be profitable before the end of the year, according to Global News.

Anticipated profitability may prompt the province do a little more soul-searching before finalizing the sale of its cannabis business. / Photo: Devonyu / iStock / Getty Images Plus Devonyu / iStock / Getty Images Plus

Parent’s comments may prompt the province do a little more soul-searching before finalizing the sale of its cannabis business, which it initially hoped to have completed by the summer. “Should the negotiations fail to yield a compelling offer that we are satisfied with, government can walk away and continue to seek efficiencies with the current public sector model or look to another private sector model,” said provincial finance minister Ernie Steeves.

Despite the developments, some experts have said that Cannabis NB will need to further reduce its prices to continue to compete with the illicit market.

“The government should never have been in the business,” University of Waterloo professor Anindya Sen told Postmedia. “Why would you want to have a monopolist? Why would government not auction off the stores they have, get some returns from that, and people who want to buy the stores can open up the market? I don’t understand why governments across Canada are veering away from competitive markets,” Sen said.

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