The P.E.I. government has agreements in place to buy marijuana from three companies, but none of them are legally binding, says Finance Minister Heath MacDonald.
In an interview with the media Tuesday, MacDonald said the province didn’t put the marijuana supply purchases out to tender and instead signed memorandums of understanding with three companies.
“We wanted to ensure that we had a product for the demand that was going to be here,” he said.
MacDonald was responding to questions from Opposition Leader James Aylward during question period about the government’s untendered agreements to buy marijuana once it is legalized.
P.E.I. has agreements to buy cannabis from Canada’s Island Garden in Charlottetown, OrganiGram in Moncton and Canopy Growth Corp in Smith Falls, Ont.
MacDonald said there will be more companies licensed through Health Canada to sell marijuana in the future.
“It’s a file that’s evolving almost daily, and we have to be on our front foot, obviously signing a MOU, but we have to be prepared that we can take a step back and ensure that if there’s something that’s going to benefit Prince Edward Island, let’s make sure it benefits Prince Edward Island,” he said.
The three companies have each agreed to provide the province with one million grams of cannabis products.
During Tuesday’s question period, Opposition Leader James Aylward said only one of the companies involved has any local ownership, and he asked what strategy the government has to ensure Island businesses can capitalize on legalization.
He also asked if the province looked at the potential for value-added companies.
“We have healthy agricultural, bioscience and manufacturing sectors in this province,” he said.
MacDonald told the media there will be opportunities for Islanders to get involved in the industry.
“That’s what we’re all about as a government is trying to create economic wealth in P.E.I., and this could play a part in it.”