The New Brunswick Cannabis Office: Meet Brennan Sisk, the Cannabis Coordinator

The New Brunswick Cannabis Office exists to solve a problem that everyone knows about: major work needs to be done for New Brunswick to be the cannabis leader it can be. Policies are out of touch with the real economic opportunity, and it’s only through a collaborative approach that the Government can make informed decisions. I’m Brennan Sisk: New Brunswick’s Provincial Cannabis Coordinator. It’s my job to grow the region’s emerging and already thriving cannabis sector.

Why Did I Take This Role?

I have 22 years of B2B marketing experience in domestic and international markets, specializing in biotechnology, engineering, agricultural, environmental, and renewable energy. Being bilingual, I will connect both English and French stakeholders making sure this funding benefits the entire province and region. These qualifications make me the perfect fit for this position and will make for a seamless transition into cannabis.

I’m lucky to have the ear of some of the region’s foremost voices in cannabis, agriculture, innovation, and economics. You’ll be hearing from these folks in our blog and on our podcast, the East Coast Cannabis Hour.

Brennan Sisk Headshot Rectangle

Why Is New Brunswick Making Cannabis a Priority?

The Province of New Brunswick has adopted legislation around the legalization of recreational marijuana. The official Federal legal date was Oct 17th, 2018. The Provincial Government has been discussing logistics as far back as 2015.

As such, investment and company attraction in this area has been ongoing for the last few years. It has been successful in attracting rather large indoor grow-op companies to the region.

Although the province has maintained a focus on the recreational market (from the marijuana plant to consumer), this represents an extremely small part of the potential economics of cannabis in this province.

Without critical mass in regional consumers and better economics related to indoor growing, New Brunswick’s recreational cannabis opportunity may be small and short-lived.

What Makes New Brunswick So Unique When It Comes to Producing Cannabis Products?

Cannabis is one of the most sustainable plants growing on this planet today. Textiles, paper, highly nutritional seed/flour, oils, reinforcing fibers, advanced biomaterials, extracts, etc. are all possibilities for this crop.

Historically, Atlantic Canada has grown significant quantities of non-psychoactive hemp. About 90 years ago, it was prohibited alongside psychoactive THC cannabis varieties (the ingredient key for recreational use). Instead, hemp has been replaced by tree-based fibers and synthetics as commodities in our consumer products value chain.

Today, we see distinct lines drawn between THC-producing cannabis cultivars and CBD-producing cannabis cultivars. Major cities in the US states of Colorado, Washington, and California are taking the lead on the indoor-THC-recreational market. Kentucky and the prairie provinces are taking the lead on industrial hemp growing for biomaterials.

This situation leaves a gap in the value chain for other value-add producing cultivars that can be grown for the extraction of cooking oil, nutritional seeds, natural health products, cosmeceuticals, and pharmaceutical products, to name a few. These cultivars are perfectly suited for Atlantic Canada’s 45th parallel climate. With over 150 years of innovation in agriculture and plant transformation, there is a clear path for New Brunswick’s strong role in the cannabis economy.

Quite recently, with the help of medical marijuana companies, another piece of the cannabis puzzle has come to include medical research, with a particular focus on CBD. In large part due to the long-standing prohibition of cannabis, medical research and uses for cannabinoids have stagnated. In response, the University of New Brunswick has created a Cannabis Health Chair focused on the scientific and social aspects of cannabis and supported by the New Brunswick Health Research Foundation and private pharma companies.

There are now three main stakeholders, Government (at all levels), Industry, and Academia engaged as the landscape of possibilities unfolds. The “bricks” are beginning to fall into place, but the missing “mortar” is still needed to keep them coordinated and together.

Natural resource specialization often correlates with drivers that contribute both directly and indirectly to improving per capita economic performance. This holds for Atlantic Canada and, more specifically, New Brunswick, as evidenced by the highly successful private sector companies in our traditional industries like fisheries, forestry, and agriculture that continue to grow and modernize.

What is the New Brunswick Cannabis Office?

The New Brunswick Cannabis Office is a non-governmental agency aimed at growing the province’s cannabis sector. The NBCO is administered by BioNB – the province’s bioeconomy agency.

Taking note of the opportunity early on, BioNB assumed the responsibility of cannabis development in the broader context of the bioeconomy. BioNB helped to coordinate the efforts of stakeholders by proposing a Provincial Cannabis Coordinator role. Although independent of BioNB and individual stakeholders, the New Brunswick Cannabis Office identifies and supports opportunities focused on cannabis for the province of New Brunswick and the Atlantic region. We will leverage our considerable research assets in agriculture, energy, and water technologies as they relate to both indoor and outdoor production of cannabis and hemp.

If you want to do business in New Brunswick’s cannabis sector (or are already doing business), contact me at info@cannabis-coordinator.com.

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