New Brunswick Premier Blaine Higgs said the province is still “testing the waters” when it comes to the future of Cannabis NB.
The government-run corporation has been a financial bust since recreational cannabis use became legal in October of 2018.
Cannabis NB lost $11.7 million in its first year of business and another $2.2 million in the first quarter of its second year.
That has prompted the Conservative government to look at its options going forward.
“It doesn’t mean that we’re going to sell it,” said Higgs on Wednesday, before entering a Tory caucus meeting in St. Andrews, N.B.
“But it means we’re not going to keep losing money.”
The Higgs government is reportedly considering three options when it comes to Cannabis NB: keeping the operation as is, privatizing it or contracting out its management.
Higgs said the province is continuing to compile data that will help inform their decision.
“If you looked across the country…there’s a lot of models in the system,” said Higgs.
Cannabis NB was created under the former Liberal administration and inherited by the Conservatives following the 2018 provincial election.
Higgs said Cannabis NB is not fulfilling its mandate the way it is currently set up.
“Firstly is it achieving the goal of getting illegal cannabis off the street and… today it’s not,” he said.
“It would appear from all accounts the market has exploded.”
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The premier did say he was hoping the government would have a better idea on the direction it is planning to take by the end of the month.
Cannabis NB is on the agenda of the caucus meeting in St. Andrews, which was originally scheduled to be held in the scenic community because of the health of MLA Greg Thompson.
Thompson died earlier this month. His funeral will be held on Friday.
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