New Brunswick’s first privately-owned cannabis store is open for business as of June 14.
Cannabis Xpress, located in Grand Bay-Westfield, a town of about 5,000 located 15 minutes outside of Saint John, is the first of up to ten private retail locations that the province opened up applications for in 2022.
Although privately-run, the retailer will still be required to purchase products from Cannabis NB.
The provincial government, which first announced its plans for around a dozen new stores in 2021, began the vetting process for ten new private cannabis stores following a tender process that ended in October 2022.
The goal was to bring cannabis to smaller, under-served communities. Tenders were accepted for Blackville, Bouctouche, Caraquet, Chipman, Dalhousie, Grand Bay, Hampton, Saint Andrews, Saint-Quentin, and Salisbury.
Cannabis NB is currently the only legal retailer in the province, with 25 locations. Most of these locations are in or near cities like Moncton, Saint John, and Fredericton. All ten new private retail locations are in towns with fewer than 10,000 residents, most with just a few thousand or fewer.
CannabisNB also currently lists three other privately owned retailers as “coming soon”, including one in Blackville, one in Bouctouche, and one in Chipman
“The goal of having private retail locations is to combat the illicit market by providing better access to safe, regulated cannabis products in underserved areas of the province,” said Cannabis NB president Lori Stickles in 2022.
Cannabis Xpress already operates 14 cannabis stores in Ontario. This is their first foray into the New Brunswick market.
Chris Jones, the owner of the new retail store, tells StratCann that he and his team are excited to enter the market and look forward to supporting the local community while continuing to expand/seek opportunities in Ontario, New Brunswick, and other limited license provinces.
“Our whole team is excited about the opening of the new store this week,” says Jones. “It was a new process for us to expand into another province. Over the last few months, we have spoken to many people in the community who have been extremely supportive of us, including the town council, and residents.”
In the agency’s most recent quarterly report in January, total sales were $21.6 million, an increase of 5 percent compared to the same period last year. Net income for the quarter was $4.8 million, 21.5 percent above the previous year’s third-quarter net income of $3.9 million.
New Brunswick has taken some relatively unique approaches to cannabis retail since opening its public-only model in 2018. In addition to being one of only two provinces with a mixed public and private retail mode (BC is the other), it is one of only three provinces (along with Ontario and BC) to have a formal farmgate retail licensing system in place. There are currently five cannabis producers in New Brunswick now licenced to allow on-site sales direct to consumers, including the recent addition of a cannabis nursery.
Judging will remain open until June 19. Results will be announced in late June.