While other provinces lag behind, New Brunswick embraces cannabis legalization

Is the Maritime province ahead of B.C. in the race to create a provincial distribution framework?

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      While some provincial governments remain mum on how they might regulate cannabis distribution, one is grabbing the federal government’s plan for legalization by the buds.

      According to a recent report by the Canadian Press, New Brunswick is leading the charge in laying the groundwork for a profitable industry in that province, viewing legalization as an opportunity to bolster its lackluster economy and create more jobs.

      In a March 24 announcement, the province even went so far as to declare marijuana a pillar of its economic strategy.

      What's more, New Brunswick's provincial government is providing cannabis producers with financial assistance. Fredericton’s St. Thomas University will soon appoint it’s first-ever cannabis research chair, who will work closely with government officials on developing sound public policy.

      The institution is also offering a new course where students can learn about marijuana cultivation.

      Beyond simply embracing the federal government's plan, the province's health minister, Victor Boudreau, told CP that New Brunswick began developing strategies well before legislation was announced.

      "We didn't just wait for the federal legislation and then start—we started doing our homework and our due diligence well before, anticipating what the federal legislation was going to look like," he said in an interview with CP's Andy Blatchford.

      Despite B.C.'s well-known status as a leader in producing high-quality cannabis, neither Christy Clarke, John Horgan, nor Andrew Weaver declared any interest in protecting the province’s well-established stake in the market during the provincial election campaign.

      Premier Brian Gallant, however, is standing up for his province's piece of the marijuana pie before it's even out of the oven.

      He forecasts "significant" growth in New Brunswick's economy, and he's keen to position the province in such a way that it receives a large percentage of the country's promised recreational cannabis industry.

      A recent study conducted by Deloitte Private found that the potential for economic impact of a legalized recreational cannabis market in Canada exceeds $22 billion.