Nova Scotia

As legal pot draws closer, frustration mounts for N.S. producers

There are three companies in Nova Scotia who are licensed to grow cannabis, but they are not permitted to sell it.

'There's no question we are anxious to get our product out there'

An employee at Breathing Green Solutions in the Wentworth Valley tends to plants. (Paul Palmeter/CBC)

With less than a week before the legalization of cannabis in Canada, frustration is starting to set in for Nova Scotia companies that produce marijuana but are still seeking approval from Health Canada to sell it.

There are three companies in the province who are licensed to grow cannabis, but not permitted to sell.

"There's a lot of frustration with the waiting part of it," said Joe Sanford, the operations manager of Breathing Green Solutions in the Wentworth Valley. "But there is still a lot of excitement here because we know we are getting that close."

This week, the Nova Scotia Liquor Corporation stated it won't have as much cannabis to sell next week as it anticipated in August.

The NSLC won't be fully stocked when cannabis can be sold legally starting Oct. 17, says spokesperson Beverley Ware. (Tom Ayers/CBC)
The liquor corporation had ordered 3.75-million grams of cannabis at that time and it was looking to have about 282 products to offer customers when cannabis becomes legal on Oct. 17.

"The cannabis [licensed producers] have told us that they won't be able to provide us with the amount of product that we had ordered," said NSLC spokesperson Beverley Ware.

Sanford's company has been through the inspection and crop-testing process and has another meeting next week with Health Canada officials. Sanford hopes that will provide the green light to start selling their cannabis.

"We founded Breathing Green Solutions almost five years ago and we still aren't selling our product," said Sanford. "It's been a very big investment for us and we've learned that you have to be patient."

Breathing Green Solutions has been in business for nearly five years and still can't sell its product. (Paul Palmeter/CBC)
He said they've now gone through seven harvests at an old NORAD facility they transformed into a cannabis production plant.

The frustration levels are also growing on Nova Scotia's South Shore.

"There's no question we are anxious to get our product out there," said Aqualitas CEO Myrna Gillis. "If you were looking for things to happen quickly then you're probably not in the right industry because it has been a fairly paced and measured process."

'Lots of product in the vault'

Aqualitas has completed three cannabis growing cycles already at the old Bowater Paper Products plant near Liverpool. The company has close to 50 employees, including some who used to work for Bowater.

"We have lots of product in the vault, so once we get that sales licence we will have no shortage of places to deploy it," said Gillis.

Highland Grow, located in South Ohio, Antigonish County, is in the same position.

They've been busy growing and making multiple harvests, but not selling.

Myrna Gillis of Aqualitas said pot producers looking for speedy approvals are probably in the wrong business. (Emma Smith/CBC)
"It is frustrating for us and other licensed producers who would have liked to have been in the position to already be selling," said Khurram Malik, CEO of Biome Grow, the parent company of Highland Grow. "But you have to work with the rules you are under."

Malik said all of their grow rooms are continuing to run at full capacity and they are stockpiling their cannabis in a large vault.

"We can provide the NSLC with a decent amount of locally grown product when we get the green light," said Malik. "Then we'll be able to start with our expansion with the 20 acres that we have here."

Read more articles at CBC Nova Scotia