The Province of New Brunswick was named ‘Most Progressive Public Office’ at Lift’s 2017 Canadian Cannabis Awards.

The fourth edition of the CCAs – aimed at highlighting the “tremendous people, products and producers in Canadian cannabis” – took place in Toronto on Nov. 30.

A committee of cannabis industry professionals chose New Brunswick as ‘Most Progressive Public Office’ from a list of nominees suggested by the general public. The category description provided to the committee during the voting period read as follows:

"The public office in this city, municipality, province or territory approaches cannabis sensibly, breaking barriers and setting conditions for a responsible, thriving cannabis industry, all while protecting the public good. The nominees for this category have taken leadership positions, boldly breaking new ground where others have hesitated."

While not every move by the east coast province has necessarily been heralded as super-progressive since nationwide recreational cannabis legalization was announced – a proposal that would require New Brunswickers to lock up their cannabis earned instant and widespread criticism – local industry officials have long praised the province’s “supportive” and “understanding” approach as a whole.   

“We are the envy of our peers because of where we get to do business,” Ray Gracewood, chief commercial officer of OrganiGram, told Civilized following New Brunswick’s big win.

OrganiGram is one of three companies who will supply cannabis for the province, as per the biggest legal recreational cannabis deal in history.

The province announced last month that – courtesy of OrganiGram, Canopy Growth Corp., and British Columbia-based grower Zenabis – it had secured 13 million grams of cannabis for the launch of recreational legalization next summer.

This made New Brunswick the first province to lock down its supply of cannabis ahead of the federal government’s summer deadline, officials claimed.

All of this is evidence that the New Brunswick government is “steering the ship in the right direction” when it comes to cannabis legalization among Canada’s provinces, according to Gracewood.

“The New Brunswick government has been so supportive, and has demonstrated a great understanding of the economical possibilities of what the cannabis industry can bring to the province,” says Gracewood, whose company took home the prize for Top Sativa Flower at the CCAs. “They’ve made it very clear from Day 1 that they’re much more willing to embrace the opportunity than to push it away.”

The Canadian government plans to legalize and regulate cannabis by July 1, 2018, but decisions regarding how to distribute the drug have been left to the provinces.

The New Brunswick government announced earlier this fall that the province’s liquor corporation, NB Liquor, will handle recreational cannabis sales through a subsidiary. Through said subsidiary, NB Liquor will sell cannabis in up to 20 stand-alone stores in 15 New Brunswick communities.