SAINT JOHN, N.B. -- The New Brunswick government's decision to keep Cannabis NB under provincial control brought reactions of relief, disappointment, and confusion on Friday.

"I think we have the right decision at this time," said Premier Blaine Higgs, ending months of delay on the subject.

Higgs said the Crown corporation's positive financial situation was a factor in his government's decision to back away from privatization. Cannabis NB lost $11.7 million in its first year of operation, but is now projected to make a $10 million profit for the current fiscal year.

The Liberals, which first introduced the public model for cannabis sales and distribution while in government, said the PC's were too quick in trying to let go of the operation.

"Thank God that the premier came to his sense and realized the benefits of having Cannabis NB as a Crown corporation," said Liberal MLA Roger Melanson.

The provincial Green Party was also happy about the government's choice.

"Now we could also improve the model that we have," said Green MLA Kevin Arseneau, mentioning how more local cannabis producers should be brought into the province's retail fold.

The People's Alliance had been pushing for a privatization of cannabis sales in New Brunswick, but not the single private operator model offered by government.

"We're going to keep pushing them to go to a model that is truly a private model," said PANB leader Kris Austin. "Not a monopoly model, but a private model where the private sector can engage in the retail portion of cannabis."

Tom Devost, president of Dieppe-based Golden Peak Cannabis, believed pressure from local producers had an impact on the government's final decision.

Devost said he wasn't against privatization per se, but rather opposed the government's single operator objective.

"Hopefully they will look at a different model, maybe get some industry consultation going," said Devost. "Maybe we could have some input into that."

Supporters of privatization were surprised the provincial government would lean so heavily in that direction and then have it all be for naught.

"Think about the companies that would've made proposals to the government and all the money and the time they wasted on something that never ended up happening," said Brad Poulos, a business instructor at Ryerson University's Ted Rogers School of Management in Toronto.

In November 2019, the New Brunswick government issued a call for proposals for the operation, distribution, and sales of recreational cannabis. In January 2020, the province said it had received privatization proposals from eight companies.

The Department of Finance said it didn't have figures available Friday for how much money was spent on the evaluation of those bids by an independent third party.