N.B. pot professionals want voices heard by marijuana working group

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NB pot professionals want voices heard by marijuana working group
WATCH ABOVE: The New Brunswick government is taking a closer look at how to handle the impending legalisation of marijuana. Global's Jeremy Keefe reports – Mar 8, 2017

Retailers in the New Brunswick marijuana scene are hoping a recently announced working group tasked with presenting the provincial government with recommendations ahead of marijuana legalization will take their concerns to heart.

READ MORE: Medical marijuana dispensaries raided in Saint John

A working group created by the provincial government consisting of officials from the health, finance, justice and public safety departments as well as Opportunities New Brunswick and NB Liquor will be meeting with stakeholders and engaging with federal counterparts over the next few months.

By the fall of 2017, their report will be presented to the government outlining aspects such as recommendations for age restriction as well as the best method of dispensing marijuana for medical and recreational use.

HBB Medical, a dispensary chain with five locations in Atlantic Canada that have been in operation for nearly a year think it’s an open and shut case.

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“If you’re looking at Holland, our neighbours the U.S., they’ve got their very own dispensaries,” explained Bowe Merchant, executive manager for HBB. “They don’t have it in any other corporations.”

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READ MORE: Marijuana advocates criticize raids on NB dispensaries

Despite a raid that closed two of their locations temporarily HBB has resumed selling marijuana to licensed medical users.

They say proving dispensaries are the safest distribution method is a goal they’ve taken on since opening their doors.

“The budtenders go through extensive training, more or less a bud school where you study the flowers, the strains, the tinctures,” he explained. “We specialize in it.”

Dispensary owners aren’t the only ones who hope to have their voices heard by the working group in their discussions.

Jackie Veinott, who owns a smoke shop in Fredericton, said she’s worried if product and paraphernalia aren’t kept separate it could drastically effect her longstanding business.

READ MORE: N.B. government invests $4M in medical marijuana production facility

“I personally have been in the industry for 25 years, the second longest running head shop in Canada, and I have no desire to sell marijuana out of my store,” she said. “I do not want the responsibility of trying to keep underage people out.”

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Veinott thinks shop owners’ opinions would be invaluable to the government working group and could only help them form more well rounded opinions.

“I just think that they really have to make sure they get all their ducks in a row for this because it would be an easy fail if they don’t do it right the first time.”

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