Marijuana dispensary not worried about NB Liquor competition
HBB Medical owner says he caters to a different kind of clientele than recreational pot users
The owner of one of the largest dispensaries in New Brunswick say he is confident his business will survive even after recreational pot becomes legal next year.
On Wednesday, the New Brunswick government revealed that NB Liquor will set up stand-alone, tightly controlled cannabis stores in 15 communities across the province.
The province has not yet said what the price will be, what the stores will be called, or what the legal age for purchasing cannabis will be.
- NB Liquor to sell recreational cannabis in stand-alone pot stores
- Where the pot shops will go across New Brunswick
Hank Merchant, the owner of HBB Medical, has been operating his five medical marijuana dispensaries in a legal "grey zone."
They are registered with Canada Revenue Agency, submit HST and carry labelled productswith with childproof and arthritis friendly containers.
However, selling cannabis from a store is still considered illegal. But for the most part, dispensaries continue to distribute marijuana to anyone with a medical prescription without repercussions.
Merchant said he thinks dispensaries like his will be fully legal by next year. He stressed that his business serves a different kind of clientele than those looking for recreational pot, so he's not worried about losing clients to NB Liquor.
"Our clients would not even consider going into an environment where there's a lot of people into a recreational environment. They want to come into a quiet, discreet location to buy medical cannabis," he said.
"It's about medical cannabis, and it's not about getting high. Different group of people entirely from the recreational people."
Asked if she was worried about competition for the NB liquor outlets from dispensaries, Finance Minister Cathy Rogers replied that it wasn't an issue because they are illegal.
"So I'll leave it at that," she said.
'Here with a servant's heart'
Halee McCoy, the purchaser for HBB Medical, said she isn't considering parlaying her expertise into a job with NB Liquor selling recreational pot.
It wouldn't be as rewarding as selling medical marijuana and seeing how it can improve clients' quality of life, she said.
"We're here with a servant's heart. We're here to help people. We're not here to make sales," she said.
"For most of us, we're in this because we care about the patients. We're not here to sell pot and make a buck."
Customer Nelson Rose said he already considers HBB Medical legitimate. He doesn't think he'll buy from NB Liquor because he likes the dispensary's personal touch.
"They really do know what they're doing," he said.
With files from Catherine Harrop