Legalization of cannabis picked top news story of 2018
Saltwire Network readership gravitated to pot in online survey
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.”
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.”