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Release more details on marijuana supply, urges Newfoundland and Labrador's PC leader

Opposition Leader Paul Davis speaks to reporters outside the House of Assembly Tuesday. The Tories and the NDP are slowing down debate on changes to the province’s Elections Act because of concerns that the government is rigging the system to its benefit.
Opposition Leader Paul Davis - The Telegram

Paul Davis questions significant contracting without request for proposals

Progressive Conservative Leader Paul Davis says the Liberals’ campaign commitment to transparency in government doesn’t seem to apply to the province’s plans on the supply of marijuana for legalization.

“Production and being a supplier with contracts, it’s going to be a licence to print money. It’s going to be significant,” Davis said, speaking with The Telegram Wednesday.

The PC leader said he can’t even find out at this point if the province is planning to contract with a single company, or multiple companies, for what the Newfoundland and Labrador Liquor Corp. (NLC) and certified retailers will need come July.

If they are sole-sourcing, Davis said, he’d like to at least know why it’s a single company and what’s being considered with the offer — how long, for instance, the NLC might be tied to that supplier.

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The Opposition was able to obtain little information this week in question period, even after — according to Davis — receiving word from a source of a possible deal between the provincial government and Canopy Growth.

In question period on Monday, Davis directly asked if the government was in talks with Canopy Growth.

He raised the topic again in question period on Tuesday, and Justice Minister Andrew Parsons then confirmed the company was one of the companies to have approached the government about the marijuana supply contract.

There has been no request for proposals issued on supply. But the province is “in conversations” with multiple potential suppliers, with no decisions yet made or contracts signed, Tourism, Culture, Industry and Innovation Minister Chris Mitchelmore said in a statement in response to questions Tuesday, repeating the information provided when the province first announced its general plans for front-end retailers.

“Should the province reach an agreement (on supply), it will be publicly communicated,” he added.

The problem at this point is there are no Government of Canada-approved producers in Newfoundland and Labrador.

Davis acknowledged it would be difficult to have a potential supplier up and running in this province in half a year’s time, with enough supply to meet provincial demand.

At the same time, he questioned how active the province has been in approaching the provincial agricultural industry on marijuana and determining the potential for local growth.

The vast majority of the 79 licensed marijuana grow and sales operations are in British Columbia and Ontario.

Canopy Growth is in multiple provinces and includes well-known subsidiaries Tweed Farms and Bedrocan, with brands including Black Label and Spectrum Cannabis and affiliated brands including Leafs by Snoop and CraftGrow. The corporation has the largest marijuana-producing greenhouse in the world, and international reach.

In the second quarter, its most recent report, the company harvested 4,167 kilograms and served over 63,000 medical patients, according to filed management discussion and analysis from November, while announcing expansion projects to help it serve the coming Canadian recreational-use market.

Those plans include a new 212,000-square-foot greenhouse, next to an existing 458,000-square-foot facility at Niagara on the Lake, Ont., with the newest facility to be up and running by April 2018.

Recent new business deals include a September 2017 memorandum of understanding with the Government of New Brunswick to supply up to 4,000 kilograms of recreational-use cannabis and cannabis derivatives to that province, under a two-year agreement, with an expected retail value of $40 million in its first year.

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