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Ninth private retail store coming to New Brunswick

Media Partners, Stratcann

This post is presented by our media partner Stratcann
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Retail chain Cannabis Xpress says it plans to open its third store in New Brunswick soon, the first cannabis store in the small town of St. Andrews, located in the back of the historic Kennedy House Hotel.

The St. Andrews store will be the 17th Cannabis Xpress location in Canada, with the rest located in Ontario. It will also be the ninth private retail store in New Brunswick since the province began accepting applications in 2022.

The provincial government’s goal in adding private stores was to bring cannabis to smaller, under-served communities like St Andrews. Tenders were accepted for Blackville, Bouctouche, Caraquet, Chipman, Dalhousie, Grand Bay, Hampton, St. Andrews, Saint-Quentin, and Salisbury. The closest licensed cannabis store to St. Andrews is currently a thirty-minute drive. 

The province currently operates 27 public Cannabis NB stores, up from 25 in March, plus its eight private stores and six farmgate stores, for a total of 41. 

The province has also said bringing private retailers to these smaller communities will help compete with unlicensed stores that continue to operate there. The New Brunswick government also recently created new powers for inspection officers to handle such stores. However, it maintains that it cannot enforce its cannabis regulations and laws on First Nations lands. 

The owner of Cannabis Xpress, Chris Jones, says his company will continue to apply for new licences as they become available and is interested in acquiring other private retailers in the province. 

“We are very excited to finally be opening in the town of St. Andrews, which has a strong local population and an even stronger amount of tourists visiting. Our plan is to continue expansion in New Brunswick and be the only private retailer, so we are looking at mergers and acquisition opportunities in New Brunswick.” 

Jones also says that operating cannabis stores in New Brunswick is easier than in Ontario, and the two current locations in the Maritime province are the company’s best-performing stores, with the average consumer purchases (baskets) being higher in New Brunswick than in Ontario. 

Cannabis Xpress received a $200,000 fine earlier this year from the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario (AGCO) for alleged violations of the province’s rules that disallow cannabis stores from asking for or accepting inducements from cannabis producers as a condition of selling or giving preferential treatment to products in their stores, also known as paying for shelf space. 

Cannabis NB’s most recent quarterly report shows product sales for the three months ending March 31 were $22.8 million, an increase of 11% compared to the same period in 2023.  

Early Birds of dried flower increased 9.7% from the same period last year, extract sales (oils and capsules) decreased 9.9%, sales of edibles increased 12.3%, sales of infused beverages increased 4.7%, topicals sales increased 44%, and concentrates sales increased 17%. 

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 six cannabis producers in New Brunswick now licensed to allow on-site sales direct to consumers, including a cannabis nursery

In its 2024-2025 Strategic Plan, the provincial cannabis agency also says they are exploring “on-site consumption opportunities” that can increase legal access and “meet the needs of current and potential customers.”

This post was originally published by our media partner here.