New Brunswick

N.B. marijuana legalization working group looks at public policy, distribution

A provincial working group looking at how to prepare for the legalization of marijuana is exploring a wide range of issues as it awaits further direction from the federal government, says member Brian Harriman.

'Broad' range of issues being explored until federal government provides more direction, says Brian Harriman

Brian Harriman, the president and chief executive officer of NB Liquor, could not say whether marijuana will eventually be offered through the Crown corporation's new online ordering and home delivery services. (CBC)

A provincial working group looking at how to prepare for the legalization of marijuana is exploring a wide range of issues as it awaits further direction from the federal government, says member Brian Harriman.

The group needs to know what will be mandated federally and what types of decisions can be made at a provincial level, said Harriman, who is the president and CEO of NB Liquor.

But some of the issues the province could be faced with include whether there should be two separate systems for medicinal use and recreational use, what the distribution channels should be, where marijuana products can be used, and whether it can be grown at home, he said.

"So it's a very broad project, honestly, but we've taken the approach provincially it's really about public safety, public health, and then the retail side is very secondary."

The federal task force chaired by former deputy prime minister Anne McLellan is scheduled to make recommendations to the federal government before the end of the year, said Harriman, who also sits on a sub-working group of that task force.

The federal government has said legislation to legalize marijuana will be introduced in the spring.

President and CEO of NB Liquor Brian Harriman talks to Terry about a 'click and collect' system, and why the Corporation is looking at going online for business. 16:03

Harriman expects the federal government will "play a large role" in production and licensing, and will likely standardize the legal age.

Provincial liquor boards have suggested their stores could serve as the retail outlets for marijuana.

Earlier this week, NB Liquor announced it will soon offer online purchases and a home delivery service. Asked whether he envisions marijuana also being available through those services, Harriman said they're currently "all about beverage alcohol."

We have to see what marijuana looks like as we go forward," he said.

With files from Information Morning Fredericton