New Brunswick says they are planning on introducing a cannabis farmgate program for local growers.
In a memo sent out to licence holders today, a representative for Cannabis NB said the provincial agency will be providing more information in the coming days and weeks as to the details of the program, such as when it will be implemented and what it will look like.
The memo says the farmgate program will open the doors for “on-site selling of in-house products for local LPs, nurseries, and micros.”
This program could be the second cannabis farmgate model to be implemented in Canada. Ontario’s first farmgate store opened in April of this year and BC is currently in talks with the industry about their proposed plan that is expected to launch in 2022.
Lara Wood, the VP of Operations at Cannabis NB, says they are ready to begin implementing licenses as soon as producers are ready.
“We have a very simple application process and a contract we’ll sign with them, and that contract is ready to go,” explains Wood. “The timeline really depends on our partners, the conversations we have with them, and what kind of timeline they need to set up in their location. We don’t have a long application process so it could be as soon as a month or two from now, depending on how fast our partners want to move.”
Wood notes that the program will be limited to those New Brunswick producers who have the appropriate processing licence and sales licence amendments, and will be limited to only selling products grown and processed on-site. Currently, there are five producers in New Brunswick who fit these requirements.
“We wanted to get it out there and start the conversation, but we do still have a few things we’re working out,” she continues. “We’re still evaluating the next step for the model overall. We’re doing a very simple farmgate program. We knew that a lot of our partners are really enthusiastic about it and it was a bit of a model expansion that we could move quickly on. But there will be more changes to the model and as we’re a couple of years into the program now, we’ll be evaluating what makes sense for customers and the industry next. This is the first step and then we’ll be able to share information as we go.”
In order to sell into a provincial system, a cannabis producer must have a product sales licence amendment for dried cannabis, cannabis extracts, topicals, and/or edibles. While Ontario’s program allows any producer with the appropriate federal sales amendments to apply for a retail “farmgate” licence, selling products from their own facility as well as other growers distributed through the OCS, BC has proposed a few different options, including potentially only allowing micro growers to sell through a “farmgate” model, as well as potentially only allowing farmgate stores to only sell their own products.
Tanner Stewart of Stewart Farms, a cannabis producer in St Stephen, NB, says he’s very excited by the proposal.
“I am absolutely ecstatic to see Cannabis NB is able to move their entire business model forward to benefit local growers and the entire province,” says Stewart. “This, to me, is a clear signal that the decision to keep Cannabis NB, to not sell it off to a privately owned monopoly, was the right decision because now we’re able to innovate again as a province.”
“For us, personally, we’ll be working to create the best cannabis farmgate experience we can possibly create and hopefully add to cannabis tourism in the province.”
Stewart Farms currently has a cannabis cultivation and processing licence, and Stewart says they are expecting their sales licence for topicals very soon, which would allow them to sell these products directly into the provincial system.
Jonathan Wilson at Crystal Cure, a cultivator and processor in Shediac, New Brunswick says the announcement was unexpected, but they’re happy to see it.
“We were very pleasantly surprised to get that, today. I thought this was years away, so kudos to CNB for fast-tracking this. We still don’t know what a lot of the ins and outs of it are, but overall this is a huge step for New Brunswick. We’re all very excited for what it can be.”
Megan McCrae, the Senior Vice President of Marketing and Communications at Organigram in Moncton, one of the handful of producers who would be able to sell under this model, says they are equally excited by the announcement.
“Organigram commends Cannabis NB for taking steps towards the introduction of a FarmGate program for local LPs, nurseries and micro-cultivators,” says McCrae. “Their focus on improving accessibility, allowing for enhanced educational opportunities and improving our ability to showcase the legal industry directly to consumers in our own backyard is very exciting. Organigram remains a very community-focused organization employing over 600 employees from New Brunswick and we look forward to welcoming consumers to our facility as well.”
This article has been updated to include comments from Cannabis NB.