Nova Scotia

NSLC to spend another $3M to prepare stores to sell edible cannabis

The Nova Scotia Liquor Corporation, which spent upwards of $11 million getting ready to sell cannabis, needs to spend another $3 million to prepare to sell edible cannabis products, according to the provincial minister responsible for the NSLC.

NSLC 'safest way for us to launch into new territory,' says Karen Casey

Finance Minister Karen Casey speaks to members of the media Thursday in Halifax. (Robert Short/CBC)

Getting ready to sell cannabis wasn't cheap. Getting ready to sell cannabis edibles won't be either.

According to Karen Casey, the minister responsible for the Nova Scotia Liquor Corporation, the corporation has estimated it would need to spend about $3 million to get stores and staff ready to sell edible cannabis products.

That's on top of the money spent last year — upwards of $11 million — to renovate 11 specialty cannabis sections and to create a standalone store near downtown Halifax.

"This time they are looking at using some of that same space," Casey told reporters following a cabinet meeting Thursday in Halifax. "So they're down around $3 million, so it's significantly less capital costs to go with NSLC."

Casey said the money would be spent to create shelf space, staff training and installation of proper refrigeration.

NSLC spokesperson Jennifer Gray said in an email that the Crown corporation will also need to modify its website, develop a customer awareness program, change its corporate social responsibility campaign, and do a warehouse and distribution review.

'We were charting new territory'

She said the corporation didn't renovate with edibles in mind last year because it wasn't clear how the federal government planned to regulate the handling of food made using cannabis.

Casey also said it wasn't entirely clear what was needed to run a retail cannabis operation.

"We were charting new territory and did not know how much space, for sure, that we would need," she said. "We were trying to get our head around the first phase."

Upwards of $11 million was spent to get NSLC locations ready for cannabis sales. (Andrew Vaughan/Canadian Press)

Casey seemed annoyed Ottawa won't have regulations in place for edibles finalized before October.

"We still have a lot of unanswered questions," she said. "We'd like to have the product ready in October but we're not going to have it.

"Nova Scotians need to know and not expect that edibles will be on the shelves in October because they will not."

Casey said the Crown corporation was in the process of preparing a report on cannabis sales that she expected would be ready within weeks.

She said that report, and possible recommendations, would guide the government in this next phase of cannabis sales.

As far as the possible sale of cannabis through private outlets, Casey said it was too early to talk about.

"We've not said no in the future, but at this point we're sticking with the tried and true."

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