N.B. keeps growing higher


As if to prove that this picture-perfect province takes a back seat to no other jurisdiction in Canada for sheer, gutsy innovation, the man in charge of New Brunswick’s liquor commission seriously wonders whether you’d like a joint with that bottle of brandy you’re buying.

I can only imagine how that conversation would transpire in the checkout line of my local, neighbourhood magasin d’alcool.

Clerk: “I see that you like a fine cognac. I’m wondering if I could interest you a high-quality Indica or Sativa to go with that drink?

Me: “Huh?”

Clerk: “Well, you are obviously a man of distinction and taste. A good, smooth spliff is the perfect complement to distilled wine. Might I suggest our latest point-of-purchase offerings?”

Me: “Can I have my receipt?”

Clerk: “Of course, sir, but before you go, allow me to educate you about the lovely qualities of our cannabis products. . .As you can see from the display, we have ‘White Widow’, ‘Big Bud’, and ‘Bubblegum’. . .all of which are supremely smooth and go very well with soft French cheeses. . .Then, of course, we have the specialty brands, ‘Ice’, ‘Northern Lights’, and ‘Purple Power’”.

Me: “No thanks. Again, can I have my receipt?”

Clerk: “Certainly, sir. . .uuuummm. . .would you like it pencil or crayon. I’m always about the customer service.”

According to an exclusive scored by Brunswick News reporter Adam Huras, “The president and CEO of NB Liquor has quietly been heading research by liquor boards from across the country to prepare for the sale, distribution and regulation of marijuana, now that the federal government is moving toward legalization. Despite the New Brunswick government remaining relatively silent on how it could handle the sale of pot. . .Brian Harriman currently leads talks on the impacts of the impending federal move.”

Well, at least someone is leading something in New Brunswick.

As for weed?

I’ve never liked it much. The last time I ‘inhaled’, I ran screaming from a party, convinced that a seven-foot clown wanted to be my ‘best friend’. (On the other hand, that could have been the brandy talking in my ear).

Still, I have to hand it to Mr. Harriman and his friends. Sales of stock beer and table wine are down in New Brunswick even as purchases of specialty liquors are up – everything from botanical gin to absinthe. Give the boys and girls at N.B. Liquor their props for getting ahead of the curve.

As for their provincial bosses. . .well. . .not so much. At least, not yet.

“We’re kind of in a bit of a wait-and-see mode,” New Brunswick Health Minister Victor Boudreau told the Saint John Telegraph-Journal late last year. “It’s the responsibility of the federal government to kind of make the first move, if you will. I would say all provincial provinces are probably looking at when they do make that move, what would be the next steps for the provinces. It’s a discussion that is starting to occur in anticipation of what’s coming.”

And why not? Some estimates suggest that a regulated, legal pot market would be worth billions of dollars a year to provincial coffers. A fraction of that sum might just offset the cost of caring for ailing tobacco smokers (who indulge in a far more deleterious habit than do recreational users of marijuana).

On the other hand, should N.B. Liquor pioneer this customer innovation, it will have to spend a few dimes reproducing its in-store posters:

“Nice mustache, but if you don’t look 30 years old, no spliff for you.”

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