Le­gal­iza­tion of cannabis picked top news story of 2018

Saltwire Net­work read­er­ship grav­i­tated to pot in on­line sur­vey

Annapolis Valley Register - - YEAR IN REVIEW - SALTWIRE NET­WORK PRO­VIN­CIAL

If a re­cent on­line poll of SaltWire Net­work read­er­ship is any in­di­ca­tion, holly wasn’t the only pop­u­lar plant over the hol­i­day sea­son in Nova Sco­tia.

Read­ers se­lected the le­gal­iza­tion of cannabis, that hap­pened on Oct. 17, as the top news story of 2018.

Bev­erly Ware, spokes­woman for the Nova Sco­tia Liquor Corp., said she’s not sur­prised. In fact, in a re­cent in­ter­view she said the big­gest is­sue since the le­gal­iza­tion of cannabis has been an in­ven­tory short­age, some­thing she ex­pected would only heighten dur­ing the hol­i­days.

NSLC stores that sell cannabis were met with line­ups for days af­ter le­gal­iza­tion and short­ages in some prod­ucts arose early in the first day of sales.

The Syd­ney River store in Cape Bre­ton was the sec­ond-busiest store in the prov­ince the first day of le­gal­iza­tion and the busiest on the sec­ond day. The Syd­ney River store is cur­rently the only Cape Bre­ton store sell­ing le­gal­iza­tion cannabis.

In south­west­ern Nova Sco­tia the only NSLC store sell­ing cannabis is in Yarmouth.

Peo­ple can also make pur­chases on­line through the NSLC.

In terms of of­fer­ing cannabis at more lo­ca­tions, at this time the NSLC is cur­rently fo­cused on se­cur­ing in­ven­tory for their ex­ist­ing stores.

“It’s un­der­stand­ably tak­ing the li­censed pro­duc­ers some time to get pro­duc­tion ramped up to meet de­mand and to get their sup­ply chains oper­at­ing smoothly,” Ware said.

“We also need to get a sales his­tory es­tab­lished, which will hap­pen over time and en­able us to eval­u­ate our op­er­a­tions.”

Ac­cord­ing to Health Canada’s web­site, as of Dec. 17 there were 134 li­censed cul­ti­va­tors, pro­ces­sors and sell­ers un­der the Cannabis Act in Canada.

In an emailed re­sponse to ques­tions, An­dré Gagnon, com­mu­ni­ca­tions ad­viser with Health Canada, said there are cur­rently more than 600 ap­pli­ca­tions for cannabis li­cences at var­i­ous stages of re­view.

“This in­cludes 17 ap­pli­ca­tions for com­pa­nies based in Nova Sco­tia.”

In the last eight months, he said Health Canada has typ­i­cally re­ceived about 40 ap­pli­ca­tions per month.

“There was a small in­crease in the two weeks be­fore Oct. 17.”

Gagnon said with the high num­ber of ap­pli­ca­tions for cannabis li­cences and the rig­or­ous ap­pli­ca­tion re­view, it will take some time for ap­pli­ca­tions to be­gin ac­tive re­view af­ter it is ac­cepted.

“All ap­pli­ca­tions un­dergo a strict and rig­or­ous as­sess­ment process to en­sure the re­quire­ments in the reg­u­la­tions are met.”

SUP­PLY CHANGES

It looks like sup­ply is­sues will change in Nova Sco­tia in the new year.

Gagnon said there are cur­rently four cannabis li­cence hold­ers based in Nova Sco­tia, in­clud­ing the most re­cent At­lantiCann Med­i­cal Inc., which was is­sued li­cences for cul­ti­va­tion and pro­cess­ing on Dec. 7. Other li­cence hold­ers in­clude Aqual­i­tas Inc., Breath­ing Green So­lu­tions and High­land Grow Inc.

Breath­ing Green So­lu­tions of Went­worth Val­ley re­ceived its ap­proval from the fed­eral reg­u­la­tor to sell cannabis Oct. 16, a day be­fore le­gal­iza­tion.

Of­fi­cials with High­land Grow Inc., a sub­sidiary of Biome Grow, re­ceived an amend­ment to their ex­ist­ing li­cence un­der the Cannabis Act from Health Canada al­low­ing for com­mer­cial pro­duc­tion.

Alise Mills of Biome said it is big news as it now makes Nova Sco­tia the big­gest cannabis sup­plier in the coun­try.

“It’s a big mo­ment. The amend­ment takes us into com­mer­cial­iza­tion,” she said.

This au­tho­riza­tion will al­low High­land Grow to sell cannabis prod­ucts to con­sumers through ap­pro­pri­ate med­i­cal and recre­ational cannabis chan­nels.

“It will work to dra­mat­i­cally in­crease sup­ply,” said Mills.

Mills said the four strains High­land Grow has for im­me­di­ate sale in­clude White Rus­sian, Ice Cream, All Kush and Sen­sis­tar. All are hy­brids of in­dica and sativa.

“We’re go­ing to be oper­at­ing at full ca­pac­ity,” Mills said. “We’re go­ing to go from 14 peo­ple to an es­ti­mated 80 peo­ple. We’ve been in­un­dated with head-hunters and em­ploy­ment com­pa­nies want­ing to help us out.”

Mills said that op­er­a­tion can pro­duce ap­prox­i­mately 700,000 grams a year. The com­pany is cur­rently build­ing a fa­cil­ity in New­found­land as well.

Frank MacMaster, pres­i­dent of High­land Grow, said they are now look­ing for­ward to get­ting this prod­uct into the hands of lo­cal cus­tomers as soon as pos­si­ble.

“The High­land Grow team has been work­ing hard to achieve this im­por­tant mile­stone,” he said. “The com­pany is look­ing for­ward to do­ing its part to elim­i­nate the cur­rent sup­ply short­age in our home prov­ince.”

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