A New Brunswick resident has started a petition to get the provincial government to reconsider their plans to sell off Cannabis NB, the chain of provincially-run cannabis retailers in the province.
Shaylynn Hayes created her “Don’t Sell Cannabis NB” petition earlier this month to express her frustration at the province’s announcement last year to look at selling off the public stores to a single, private company. Hayes, a writer and political enthusiast, manages her own regional media site for culture and news, The Maritime Anchor. She says she created the petition to draw attention to the proposed sale of the public asset, and express her own opposition.
Last November, the New Brunswick Government issued a request for proposals (RFP) for a “single private operator” to take over the operation, distribution and sales of recreational cannabis in New Brunswick.
Although the proposal has been delayed by COVID-19, the provincial government says they still hope to come to a decision by this summer.
Hayes says she’s supportive of the public store model, especially now that it is profitable, but also notes she’s not opposed to allowing private retailers in the province. Her main concern is selling off a public monopoly like Cannabis NB to one single bidder.
StratCann reached out to Shaylynn to learn more about her petition and the motivation behind it.
The time to privatize is not when there are laws ensuring lack of competition – enriching the few off the taxpayer’s money. I believe Cannabis as an open market is another conversation entirely.Shaylynn Hayes of “Don’t Sell Cannabis NB”
What inspired you to create this petition?
“When I first learned about the potential sale of Cannabis NB, at the start of 2020, I was frustrated by the government’s decision to sell a business to the private market that was paid for by the tax-payers of New Brunswick. This is especially frustrating now that Cannabis NB is profitable.”
What has the response been like so far in terms of feedback and signatures?
“So far, there have been 248 signatures on the petition entitled “Don’t Sell Cannabis NB”. The petition is on a website I created, www.dontsellcannabisnb.com; I am a web designer and therefore made the website myself.”
Are you opposed to any form of privatization, or just the proposed path by the NB government? (ie. selling off public resources to one private company)
“I’m not opposed to privatization, and I have a good handle on politics…. I do think it’s important to mention that I believe some services should not be privatized. This is especially true for water, sewer, electricity.
“As for privatization of Cannabis – I think this would be a great avenue for privatization, and I really hope businesses can grow from cannabis. However, the law would need to change. Cannabis NB right now, due to laws, is a legal monopoly. The time to privatize is not when there are laws ensuring lack of competition – enriching the few off the tax-payer’s money. I believe Cannabis as an open-market is another conversation entirely.”
Why do you think the government is looking at selling off Cannabis NB?
“I can’t speak for Higgs and his government. However, I am reminded of the recent controversy with Kevin Cormier as the head of the NB libraries. He has since stepped down, but this is not the first time Higgs’ government has been questioned for their motivations.”
What are some improvements you think NB could take to improve their current retail system and model?
“The prices have actually gone down since the pandemic – and this has been nice! I think the staff needs to ease off. Cannabis users hate the prison feeling of Cannabis NB, and it really seems unnecessary to have more screening than alcohol. Ease off of customers, and make it less of a prison experience.”
What’s your background in terms of cannabis, the cannabis industry, and/or government relations?
“I am completing my political science degree (Bachelor’s) and have been an advocate for mental illness for the past 5+ years. I have used cannabis recreationally and sometimes for mental illness.
“As a political person interested in the development of New Brunswick, I’d rather not let public assets be sold to the highest bidder. While they would still provide jobs (and taxes), that’s not enough! Cannabis NB should be kept under the tax-payer’s (government) control. If there is a conversation to be had about privatization, and in the future changing Cannabis NB, I am not opposed, but selling a legal monopoly is not the way forward.”