Pubdate: Fri, 03 Nov 2017
Source: Cape Breton Post (CN NS)
Copyright: 2017 Cape Breton Post
Author: Nancy King
Page: A3


Cannabis forum attracts businesspeople, politicians, individuals

It's still unclear how it will be distributed in Nova Scotia, but with
the legalization of cannabis across Canada due by July, businesses,
municipalities and individuals are considering how they can best respond.

About 75 people attended Thursday's Atlantic Cannabis Forum hosted by
the Cape Breton Partnership at the Membertou Trade and Convention
Centre Thursday.

While the Trudeau Liberal federal government introduced legislation to
legalize cannabis earlier this year, to date only Ontario and New
Brunswick have unveiled what their distribution models will look like.

The Stephen McNeil provincial government solicited input from
residents of this province via an online survey that recently closed.
It sought feedback on questions such as using age 19 as the legal age
of purchase and use, the sale of cannabis through a Crown corporation
like the Nova Scotia Liquor Corp., where recreational cannabis would
be used and concerns about drug-impaired driving.

There are currently 69 authorized licensed producers across Canada,
primarily in Ontario and British Columbia. There are three in Atlantic
Canada, but none in Nova Scotia currently.

"For us there's so many factors that are involved around having it
legalized that this was giving us a real good background on a lot of
information that either we weren't privy to or just didn't know
about," Victoria County Warden Bruce Morrison, among the delegates at
the forum, said in an interview.

He said the county is interested in what the economic development
potential is for production of cannabis for medical purposes, but
through the forum they also became aware of other issues related to
legalization, licensing, regulation and the public perception of cannabis.

"Is there a chance for employment, is it an industry that's a good mix
in Victoria County and will people view it as being a viable industry
that could be operated in our small rural municipality?" Morrison said.

Greg Engel is CEO of Organigram, the only large-scale licensed
producer east of Ontario. He noted his company currently employs 110
full time at its Moncton base and forecasts increasing that to 250 by
next summer, and with expansions planned.

By the end of this year, its licence will allow it to have a
150,000-square-foot indoor facility, with a three-level growing design
that allows it to maximize its power costs. He noted that New
Brunswick also has the advantage of relatively low electricity rates.

By next summer, the company will be in a position to produce 25
million grams, Engel said.

Engel stressed the country wouldn't be on the cusp of legalization if
it was not for the work done by advocates over the years, including
multiple court challenges. He added there has been real growth in
social acceptance of cannabis use for medical purposes, which has
allowed physicians to feel more confortable prescribing it.

Health Canada figures from June show that the total number of client
registrations for medical cannabis in Canada was more than 201,000,
with 6,880 personal and designated production active registrations.
About five per cent of physicians can be considered prescribers of

Engel noted that New Brunswick embraced the industry from the start
and the province just announced a cannabis horticulturalist college
program. Supply is expected to be a critical issue for the first few
years of the program, he added.
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