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Government’s decision on Cannabis NB won’t come until the new year

Click to play video 'Canada’s legal marijuana industry turns two: what has changed?' Canada’s legal marijuana industry turns two: what has changed?
WATCH: As Canada’s legal cannabis industry turns two on Oct. 17, 2020, licensed stores across the country are celebrating a jump in sales, with one retail expert saying the COVID-19 pandemic has been a “boon” for the industry. Jasmine Pazzano explains. – Oct 17, 2020

The New Brunswick government says a decision on the future of Cannabis NB won’t come until the new year.

At stake is which entity will be allowed to be the sole provider of retail cannabis in New Brunswick: a private company or a Crown corporation.

In 2019, Blaine Higgs’ PC government said the province was prepared to take cannabis sales private after Cannabis NB lost almost $12.5 million in its first fiscal year, which included five months of legal cannabis in Canada.

Read more: Cannabis NB celebrates 12 straight months of profitability as decision on sale looms

New Brunswick’s finance minister Ernie Steeves said at the time that a review would be conducted and a request for proposals (RFP) issued.

Eight companies eventually submitted proposals in response to the RFP but a final decision has yet to be made.

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In the intervening year, the landscape of cannabis sales in New Brunswick has changed dramatically.

Of the eight companies that submitted proposals, one has since withdrawn from the process while another, Canopy Growth Corp., closed its Fredericton growing operation.

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NB Cannabis turning a profit despite possible sale – Jun 30, 2020

Cannabis NB has posted 12-straight months of profitability with a net income of $6.1 million as of the end of November while it is forecast to finish the current fiscal year with a net profit of more than $10 million.

But the man who was brought in to change up the Crown corporation has resigned after a little less than 15 months on the job despite the success.

Patrick Parent, the president and CEO of Cannabis NB and Alcool NB Liquor, is set to leave his position on Thursday

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Parent said earlier this month when he resigned that he was set to return to the private sector.

“This was not an easy decision. During my time with ANBL and Cannabis NB, I’ve seen first-hand the dedication and commitment both teams have to managing and operating successful retail businesses for the people of New Brunswick,” said Parent in a news release earlier this month.

Read more: Patrick Parent, CEO of NB Liquor and Cannabis NB, announces resignation

A decision on the future of Cannabis NB has faced repeated delays.

Premier Blaine Higgs told Global News that a decision on the sale of Cannabis NB would be ready once his cabinet was sworn in, which occurred on Oct. 1, but nearly two full months later the province has still not made a decision.

In November, spokespeople for the province said the government would have an update on the Cannabis NB RFP “in the near future.”

Now the decision has been pushed back to the New Year.

— With files from Global News Karla Renic and Silas Brown