Saint John is set to host a global conference on all things cannabis later this year and both the New Brunswick and federal governments are pitching in to lend a hand.
Both levels of government have committed $275,000 in taxpayer funds for this year’s Cannabis Congress, which is set for June 10 to 12 — just weeks before recreational marijuana is expected to be legalized in Canada.
“I would not have thought even five years ago that I would be standing here doing this,” said New Brunswick Finance Minister Cathy Rogers, who was on hand at Monday’s announcement of the event.
The goal of the conference is to connect global industry leaders in cannabis with members of Canada’s still developing field. More than 350 delegates from countries, including Brazil, Germany, Israel, Mexico, South Africa and Uruguay, are expected to attend.
It’ll be an audience keenly interested in how Canada — and New Brunswick — will approach the prospect of legalization.
“We thought this was a great way to bring the global leaders to New Brunswick, to experience not only our hospitality but to dialogue with one another,” said Derek Riedle, publisher of the online cannabis focused magazine Civilized, which will serve as a partner for the event.
According to Stephen Lund, chief executive of Opportunities New Brunswick, the province now sees cannabis as a strategic sector.
“We’re not advocating any more use. We’re just saying from an economic development perspective this industry is going to happen somewhere, why not New Brunswick?” Lund said.
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The province predicts that the industry will employ 3,000 New Brunswick by 2022.
But officials stress that it’s not just about growing cannabis in the province. It’s also about building a financially responsible industry.
“We’ve met with over 50 companies across the country. We’ve also met with companies across the world,” Lund said.
“Canada is recognized as as a leader in this sector and so we’re going to be a leader here in New Brunswick. We already are.”
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