The NSLC made the announcement Wednesday afternoon in a press release from board chairman George McLellan.
Recruitment to secure a replacement for Mitchell, who had been in his position since 2006, will begin immediately, McLellan said.
In the email, McLellan credits Mitchell’s leadership for the “tremendous growth and success” of the NSLC, which he said has contributed to the overall economic development of Nova Scotia.
Reached by phone, NSLC spokeswoman Heather MacDougall said Mitchell resigned for personal reasons.
Mitchell was not immediately available for comment.
“The fact of the matter is, Bret has been our CEO for 13 years, and that’s quite a long time for any CEO. It was time for him to move on and try some new things,” she said.
In late 2017, The Chronicle Herald obtained a letter to alcohol vendors written by NSLC senior vice-president and chief operating officer Tim Pellerin just after the provincial government announced plans to sell cannabis and alcohol at the same locations that seemed to point to some concerns from his boss about the model.
“Although this announcement does not align with Bret's previously communicated preference, the minister of finance and her colleagues have been very clear that the decision is first and foremost based on the government's confidence in the NSLC to do the job safely, efficiently and effectively. We appreciate the government's confidence in the NSLC and the team is keen to deliver on those expectations,” the email read.
On Wednesday, MacDougall said Mitchell’s resignation was not driven by those concerns.
“He was happy to deliver on the province’s mandate,” she said.
After the Oct. 17 legalization date, the NSLC will sell all recreational cannabis using a store-within-a-store model at 11 existing NSLC locations along with one standalone store and online sales.
During a media tour of one of the new stores in July, Mitchell boasted that the NSLC’s model was unique.
“It’s going to make it a very different retail environment than you’ll experience in any other jurisdiction,” Mitchell told reporters at the time.
Though the NSLC has defended their plans to co-locate cannabis and alcohol, some experts warn that it could be a dangerous combination.
Dr. Simon Sherry, a professor in the department of psychology and neuroscience at Dalhousie University has been outspoken about the issue, citing a number of public health concerns, mainly that it might influence users of one to try the other or encourage the consumption the two products together.