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New Brunswick inks deal with company to provide marijuana for recreational users

Aurora argues that CanniMed’s proposed acquisition of Newstrike is a “terrible deal.”.
Aurora argues that CanniMed’s proposed acquisition of Newstrike is a “terrible deal.”. File / Global News

New Brunswick says it has become the first province to fully secure its supply of recreational marijuana.

It announced a memorandum of understanding with Zenabis to provide four million grams of cannabis and derivative products with a retail value of about $40 million.

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The province previously signed similar agreements with Organigram and Canopy Growth Corp., each worth about $40 million annually.

“We are committed to ensuring the legalization of cannabis is introduced in a safe and secure way so we can get cannabis out of the hands of our youth and the proceeds from selling cannabis out of the hands of criminals,” Premier Brian Gallant said in a statement.

“New Brunswick becomes (the) first province in Canada to fully secure supply of cannabis and cannabis products for all its consumers,” Zenabis and the province said in a joint press release on Monday.

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The Zenabis deal is expected to create about 450 jobs over the next two years in the village of Atholville.

The province announced in August 2016 that it would provide a $4-million loan to Zenabis to build its New Brunswick facility. The local First Nation has itself invested $3 million in the facility.

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“This opportunity will not only provide a financial return, but more importantly – a partnership built from meaningful conversations, a vision for the future within the sector, and a lasting, mutual, beneficial, business relationship,” Chief Darcy Gray of the Listuguj Mi’gmaq Government said in a statement.

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Zenabis has a 393,000 square foot facility in Atholville for the production and distribution of pharmaceutical-grade medical marijuana, and holds a second production licence in Delta, B.C.

The company says it is also in the “late stages” of securing a licence for a 280,000 square foot facility in Stellarton, N.S., which Zenabis says makes it the “only coast to coast licensed producer in the country.”

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The federal government has introduced legislation to legalize recreational weed by July 1, but left distribution and regulation to the provinces.

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The New Brunswick government announced in March it has made weed part of its economic strategy, and plans to “build a ‘best-in-class’ hub of infrastructure and research clusters to attract new investment” in marijuana. It is giving producers financial incentives and developed a community college program for cannabis technicians.

“New Brunswick’s leadership in cannabis is also attracting some of the greatest pharmaceutical minds, researchers, investors, inventors and entrepreneurs,” Zenabis CEO Kevin Coft said in a statement.