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Stewart Farms opens private retail cannabis location in St. Stephen

By Scott Pettigrew Apr 27, 2023 | 8:40 PM

New Brunswick’s fifth FarmGate cannabis store opened its doors last week, marking a first for southern New Brunswick and Charlotte County’s foray into the space.

Cutting the ribbon at 4:20 p.m., Stewart Farms founder and CEO Tanner Stewart welcomed the public into the new storefront on April 20.

“It was our local [Progressive] Conservative MLA Kathy Bockus who cut the ribbon of southern New Brunswick’s first privately owned cannabis retail store,” he says.

Located at 30 Progress Drive in St. Stephen, the storefront is attached to his farming and production facility, allowing patrons to access Stewart Farms products directly if they are in the area.  Stewart likens it to a taproom at a brewery or a tasting room at a distillery.

“It’s a place for us to connect directly with our community and showcase all the products,” he says. “We’re not even one week into it, but the impact that this retail store is going to have on us as a company is going to be quite significant.”

Stewart says being able to deal directly with customers is going to give the company valuable insight into what is and isn’t, working for their customers.

“It gives us that direct feedback.”

This new storefront is part of Cannabis NB’s model evolution which began in 2021 with the FarmGate program and the first FarmGate store, Crystal Cure in Shediac Cape in late 2021.

When the new model was introduced in 2021, Cannabis NB CEO Lori Stickles described the program as a way to “increase visibility for local licensed producers, and provide them with more opportunities to educate customers about their products at their own facility, while also creating potential tourism opportunities”.

Products sold at FarmGate locations must be grown, produced, and packaged onsite, in addition to following all of Health Canada’s cannabis-related guidelines.

CNB is making plans to add long-term and seasonal pop-up stores as well as to launch a new private retail channel of 10 stores.

In its latest financial statement for the quarter ending October 2, 2022, Cannabis NB reported total product sales of $21.7 million which was down 3.3 per cent from the same period the year before.  While dried flower, extracts, and accessories were all down compared to the second quarter the year before, edibles, topicals, and concentrates were all up.

This is great news for Stewart, who, while selling traditional dried flower and other cannabis products, has been making his mark in wellness products. His series of topical balms, featuring not just cannabis from the farm, but other traditional anti-inflammation herbs like turmeric, lavender, and lemongrass, as well as a number of other wellness-centered products complement this new trend in cannabis products.

In shipping his cannabis-infused balms, salt soaks, and bath bombs to customers across the country Stewart has tried to remain true to his New Brunswick roots.

“We went full New Brunswick with blueberries and seaweed,” he says of his salt soaks, noting that Stewart Farms works with nearby Magellan Aqua Farms to get the seaweed extract straight from the source at the Bay of Fundy.

But beyond his enthusiasm for Stewart Farm’s products, Stewart has boundless enthusiasm for the potential in New Brunswick, and the St. Stephen region, for the cannabis industry.

Stewart Farms has 30 full-time employees including chemists, horticulturalists, and marine biologists, as well as providing meaningful part-time work for 16 additional special needs employees. The financial contribution to the region is significant for such a small community, and his is just one of other similar operations in the area.

“We’re equal with everyone else right now,” he says of the cannabis space. His farm has one of the largest cannabis-related genetic libraries in North America and is gleaning new information in this emerging industry every day.

He says New Brunswick can compete on the world stage in this industry if the government commits to supporting not only selling products, but nurturing the industry so that operations like his and others in the Maritimes, can become world leaders in understanding cannabis, cultivating it, and making high-quality products.

“While cannabis remains federally illegal in the United States, Canada has a global advantage over the United States and we’re squandering it,” he says. “It comes down to over-regulation and over-tax.”

He says when the cannabis industry first started in New Brunswick there was a lot of enthusiasm from the government and organizations like ONB for putting the province on the cutting edge of development and production, not just storefronts. He’d like to see that enthusiasm for this multi-million-dollar industry return.

“It’s anyone’s game right now to be the most cannabis-friendly, most innovative, supportive place in the world to drive this industry forward.”

Alex Graham is a reporter with Huddle, an Acadia Broadcasting content partner.


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