Nova Scotia

Breathing Green Solutions becomes first Nova Scotia producer licensed to sell pot

After months of waiting and years of work Nova Scotia's first marijuana production company has earned its Health Canada sales licence, little more than 24 hours before recreational cannabis became legal across the country.

'We are ecstatic to be the first licensed in Nova Scotia'

An employee at the Wentworth, N.S.-based Breathing Green Solutions. (Paul Palmeter/CBC)

After months of waiting and years of work Nova Scotia's first marijuana production company has earned its Health Canada sales licence, little more than 24 hours before recreational cannabis became legal across the country.

Breathing Green Solutions in the Wentworth Valley will now be able to ship out and sell its recreational cannabis to retailers. Two other marijuana production companies in the province are still waiting for their approval to sell.

"It's somewhat bittersweet. It's a whole bunch of excitement; we obviously wish we would have had product for legalization," Joe Sanford, the operations manager at Breathing Green Solutions, told CBC's Information Morning

"But we are ecstatic to be the first licensed in Nova Scotia," 

The company was told late Monday night they'd been given a licence to sell.

The Breathing Green Solutions facility in Wentworth Valley is located in a converted military building. (Paul Palmeter/CBC)

Getting that sales licence is no easy feat. First a company needs to get a cultivation licence to grow pot and must meet strict growing and storage regulations, something that took Breathing Green Solutions years.

Then a company needs to produce two full crops of product, dry the product and then send it off for testing by Health Canada, Sanford has said in a previous interview.  

But even with the sales licence in hand it will still be a while before Nova Soctians can sample Breathing Green Solutions's product. 

"We will not have recreational product in the stores for approximately two to three weeks as there is a bit of a process to go through with packaging and shipments to the locations," said Sanford.

Only Breathing Green Solutions, Aqualitas and Highland Grow are currently licensed to grow marijuana in Nova Scotia. The other two companies are still waiting for their licence to sell.

"I'm really excited and I'm very happy for Joe and his team, they're a great group and we're looking forward to joining them soon," said Myrna Gillis, the CEO of Aqualitas. 

Aqualitas plants and employees. (Submitted by Aqualitas)

She said her company is simply waiting for the last stage of the sales licensing process to be completed. 

Each company has taken huge risks in setting up their facilities without any guarantee that their products would be approved to sell.

Aqualitas privately raised $22 million to set up its almost 80-thousand-square-foot growing facility in the former Bowater Paper Products warehouse in Brooklyn, Queens County. 

"The capital that's required to get your infrastructure in place so your building, your HVAC, your rooms, those controlled environments, your electrical, you're looking at tens of millions of dollars," said Gillis.     

Myrna Gillis of Aqualitas stands outside the company's facility in Brooklyn, Queens County. (Emma Smith/CBC)

Breathing Green Solutions made similar investments when it spent two years renovating the old North American Aerospace Defense Command facility to make it a suitable growing space. 

A big gamble that Sanford hopes will soon start paying off now that he's allowed to legally sell his marijuana. 

"It's a huge risk for any of the licensed producers and anyone that makes it out of the application process is a great feat behind them, because it is a lot of work for a company to get through the license process with Health Canada, as it is very limited and it's a very rigorous process," said Sanford.


David Burke


David Burke is a reporter in Halifax who covers everything from politics to science. His reports have been featured on The National, World Report and As it Happens, as well as the Information Morning shows in Halifax and Cape Breton.

With files from Information Morning