Nova Scotia’s hashish biz has had highs and lows since legalization

It has been a wild experience for some hashish firms in Nova Scotia because the legalization of hashish in Canada in 2018.

Whereas some have expanded their enterprise, different amenities have closed.

“In some ways issues have exceeded our expectations, however there have been additionally issues we weren’t anticipating with the {industry},” mentioned Aqualitas CEO Myrna Gillis.

Aqualitas constructed its facility on Nova Scotia’s South Shore on the outdated Bowater-Mersey pulp plant in Brooklyn, Queens County.

Gillis mentioned enterprise goes effectively, however fluctuating costs and provide points have hashish firms rolling with the punches.

“The pace [at] which the value compression and oversupply occurred, whereas it was anticipated to some extent, it did occur at an escalated tempo,” mentioned Gillis. “These had been issues even the regulator wasn’t anticipating.”

Aqualitas, with 75 workers, operates in a different way from different producers.

It makes use of waste from koi fish raised on web site to fertilize hashish vegetation. It’s a massive expense the enterprise would not have to fret about.

A whole lot of hashish vegetation are proven inside one of many develop rooms at Aqualitas. This crop was a few week away from being harvested. (Paul Palmeter/CBC)

Whereas it is a far cry from the 1,100 individuals who labored at Bowater at its peak, it is sparking financial exercise in part of the province the place jobs will be arduous to search out.

Whereas Aqualitas is rising to the problem, different firms have pulled out of the province.

Aqualitas makes use of waste from koi fish raised on web site to fertilize their hashish vegetation. (Paul Palmeter/CBC)

After a serious renovation of an outdated manufacturing plant in Stellarton, hashish was being grown for a few years. However about 60 employees reported for his or her final shift in February as guardian firm Hexo decommissioned the positioning, opting to centralize manufacturing at another hashish processing amenities.

The same destiny occurred to shut to 30 employees within the Annapolis Valley in March. Robinsons Hashish, owned by Auxly out of Ontario, closed its doorways within the Kentville Enterprise Park.

“We proceed to focus our efforts on streamlining and simplifying our cultivation platform,” mentioned senior vice-president Carla Nawrocki in an electronic mail to CBC Information.

A brief journey down the freeway from the Kentville facility, two giant storage sheds with safety cameras and fencing had already been constructed at Robinsons’ out of doors develop location in Hortonville. No vegetation had been ever grown there regardless of heavy funding.

Robinsons Hashish in Kentville closed in March. (Paul Palmeter/CBC)

“We intend to divest these property and apply the proceeds from any such sale to assist Auxly’s ongoing operations,” mentioned Nawrocki.

Regardless of these setbacks, there are nonetheless a whole bunch of individuals working within the hashish {industry} in Nova Scotia.

Respiration Inexperienced Options, situated within the Wentworth Valley, was the primary firm from Nova Scotia to obtain a hashish gross sales allow from Well being Canada.

No vegetation had been grown on the Robinsons Hashish out of doors develop and drying facility in Hortonville. (Paul Palmeter/CBC)

The corporate retrofitted the outdated NORAD web site. It already had some safety measures in place.

BGS is owned by shareholders and traders nearly totally from the Maritimes.

“Sustaining top quality employment in a rural, lovely place like Wentworth is our focus,” mentioned firm president Savior Joseph.

The corporate has 45 workers on the plant, plus one other 10 gross sales jobs.

One of many develop rooms at Respiration Inexperienced Options within the Wentworth Valley. (Paul Palmeter/CBC)

The corporate has stored its enterprise mannequin easy with solely three strains of hashish being mass-produced. However that may quickly change.

“We’re transferring into therapeutic merchandise in a three way partnership we now have with a acknowledged chief in pure well being merchandise,” mentioned Joseph. “We’ll be beginning to make capsules and different merchandise right here too, so we now have made some investments there.”

Whereas the {industry} has been good for some, and disastrous for others, all producers say they have been suffering from ever-evolving rules due partially to COVID-19.

A Respiration Inexperienced Options worker holds a full tray of freshly lower buds inside the corporate’s harvest room. (Paul Palmeter/CBC)

“We have now an intensely difficult retail/business atmosphere with extra provide, a big unregulated market and important rules and taxes,” mentioned Joseph. “All these issues are hampering or placing challenges on the {industry}.”

Regardless of the challenges, the quantity of hashish being offered at NSLC shops is rising.

Numbers for the most recent fiscal yr will probably be launched subsequent month. They’re anticipated to rise from final yr when gross sales elevated 21.1 per cent from the yr earlier than.

A pointy decline within the value of hashish, and lots of extra NSLC shops which have been renovated to make approach for hashish gross sales, are among the many causes for the will increase.

Solely 12 NSLC shops offered hashish when it was legalized in October 2018, nevertheless it’s now available in 37 shops.

A hashish plant within the closing stage of progress beneath specialised develop lights. (Paul Palmeter/CBC)

They’re being equipped domestically by 16 Nova Scotia suppliers and three native micro-cultivators. That quantity will quickly develop to 17 as Zuri Canada, primarily based in Annapolis County, acquired its Well being Canada gross sales licence final week.

“It took three years and it was an extended arduous course of,” mentioned Karl Hollett, COO of Zuri Canada. The corporate operates out of the outdated Convergys name centre that closed in 2011.

Hollett mentioned the corporate has 21 workers. It expects to have its product in shops in 4 to 6 weeks.