N.B. creates Crown corporation to oversee marijuana sales

**Updated at 1:53 p.m. Friday**

The New Brunswick government has created a Crown corporation to oversee the sale of recreational marijuana, and signed deals with two suppliers.

Finance Minister Cathy Rogers says the deals with Organigram and Canopy Growth Corp. secure a supply for the New Brunswick market in time for the July 2018 launch.

The federal government has introduced legislation to legalize recreational weed by July 1, but left distribution and regulation to the provinces.

Ontario was the first out of the gate, announcing a detailed plan last week that would restrict sales to residents 19 and older from as many as 150 dedicated stores run by the province's liquor control board or through the Internet.

A New Brunswick legislature committee recommended selling marijuana through government-operated stores to anyone 19 years or older, but Rogers says the government has yet to make a final decision on a retail model.

Moncton-based Organigram says it has signed a deal to allocate about a quarter of its production — or at least five million grams per year — to the province's adult recreational market, with an estimated retail value of between $40 million and $60 million a year.

Canopy Growth Corp., which is based in Ontario, has also announced that it has entered into a two-year supply agreement with the province.

As part of the agreement, the company will produce four million grams of cannabis and cannabis derivative products in the first year, which it expects to have an estimated retail value of $40 million in its first year.

Canopy Growth says it plans to set up shop in New Brunswick in a 40,000-square-foot industrial building on Blizzard Street in Fredericton, which will be expanded into a 100,000-square-foot facility.

With files from The Canadian Press