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Highland Grow of Antigonish County has received approval from Health Canada to sell cannabis.
That makes it Nova Scotia’s second legal seller of marijuana products.
Wentworth Valley-based Breathing Green Solutions received its approval from the federal regulator to sell cannabis just a day before it became legal for recreational use on Oct. 17.
Meanwhile, two other companies – Aqualitas Inc. of Queens County and AtlantiCann of Lower Sackville – have licences to cultivate cannabis and are working through Health Canada’s regulatory process to become licensed to sell.
The most recent approval comes as the Nova Scotia Liquor Corp., the province’s only legal retailer, struggles to keep its shelves stocked.
Last Wednesday, deputy premier Karen Casey told The Chronicle Herald that demand is currently outstripping supply by about 60 per cent.
“We’ve been working on an agreement with the NSLC on supply for five to six months and have been in very close contact with them on a weekly basis,” Frank MacMaster, president and head grower at Highland Grow, said Sunday.
“They’re eager to have another local producer on their shelves.”
MacMaster said his employees will begin labelling their product containers on Monday and hope to have their product at NSLC outlets across the province within a week or two.
The four strains Highland Grow has prepared for immediate sale are White Russian, Ice Cream, All Kush and Sensistar. All are hybrids of indica and sativa.
Operating at full capacity, the Ohio, Antigonish County, operation can produce about 700,000 grams of marijuana a year. Highland Grow is owned by Ontario-based Biome Grow, which is building a large facility in its home province and another in Newfoundland.
Biome Grow already has a sales agreement with the government of Newfoundland and Labrador that will see it open six dispensaries in that province.
The Ohio facility is Biome Grow’s first to have obtained the much-coveted permission to sell from Health Canada.
“So we’re the trailblazers for the company,” MacMaster said.
The company is planning to begin a large expansion of its Antigonish County facility this coming winter. Two 50,000-square-foot expansions will increase production capacity by at least sevenfold and possibly ninefold.
MacMaster said the expanions will also ultimately increase employment from the 14 people currently working for Highland Grow to almost 80.
The expansion will include a laboratory operated by staff and students from St. Francis Xavier University in Antigonish. They will research ways to increase efficiency, create better genetic strands and identify other uses for cannabis products.