New Brunswick

Province now expects no profits in 1st year of pot sales

Though it originally expected to rake in millions from selling recreational marijuana, the New Brunswick government now says it expects to break even in the first year of legalization due to delays in Ottawa.

2018-19 budget originally projected $7.2 million in revenue from selling marijuana

Cannabis NB has been setting up its retail shops, including this one at 87 Landsdowne Ave. in Saint John. (Julia Wright/CBC)

Though it originally expected to rake in millions from selling recreational marijuana in 2018, the New Brunswick government now says it only expects to break even in the first year of legalization because of delays in Ottawa. 

In its 2018-2019 budget, the government had projected making $7.2 million in revenue from retail cannabis sales.

But with the legalization of marijuana now set for Oct. 17, a few months after Ottawa's initial target date, provincial Finance Minister Cathy Rogers said Thursday that the province doesn't expect to make any money at all in the first year.

"Obviously, we were already dealing with a partial fiscal year," she said during a news briefing. "Now we'll be dealing with even less of a partial fiscal year.

"So we're looking at a break-even situation now, because we have and will be incurring costs."

It's too early to forecast what, if any, revenue the province could make from marijuana sales in the coming years, she said.

Federal delays

Finance Minister Cathy Rogers takes questions from reporters Thursday about the effect of the later-than-expected start to recreational pot sales.

In March, Rogers said she expected the $7.2 million figure in her January budget to be thrown off by the delay in legalization.

She couldn't say precisely by how much but thought a short-term delay would not have a significant impact.

The Brian Gallant government aimed to open retail cannabis stores at the start of July, when legalization was expected to take effect across the country.

But the timeline was pushed back after the federal government agreed to let the Senate spend more time studying and debating the legislation.

Bill C-45 was passed June 19. It came with a provisional buffer period of eight to 12 weeks to give provinces time to prepare.

With files from Catherine Harrop

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