Pubdate: Wed, 08 Nov 2017
Source: Victoria Standard, The (CN NS)
Copyright: 2017 The Victoria Standard
Author: Carolyn Barber
Page: 2


Austin wants Victoria County to get fair share of economic growth

With federal legalization of recreational cannabis less than nine
months away, these are interesting times for an Economic Development
Officer (EDO) in Cape Breton.

"I've been watching this for a while and looking for economic
opportunities so the County of Victoria gets its fair share of
economic growth from it," said Victoria County Economic Development
Officer Patrick Austin.

Austin was instrumental in launching a broad-based conversation
concerning the economic impacts of legalization for Cape Breton. He
and colleagues from the Cape Breton Partnership gathered business
owners, legislators, regulators, public health and safety authorities
for the recent Atlantic Cannabis Forum held in Membertou, Nov. 1-2.

Austin wants to see privatized sale of cannabis, though most signs
point toward regulated distribution - possibly through the Nova Scotia
Liquor Corporation (NSLC).

"We're still waiting to see what the province rolls out as its plan.
As far as an economic driver, if it goes through a crown corporation,
then that will be all provincially controlled and we won't be able to
help local businesses set up their own retail shop."

Regardless of how the province decides to distribute cannabis,
opportunities are currently available to grow the plant, if interested
growers can endure the lengthy process of securing a grow licence.
Austin says there are three prospective growers looking at Victoria
County. There are currently 69 Licensed Producers of Cannabis in
Canada, with three in Atlantic Canada (2 in New Brunswick, 1 in Prince
Edward Island.)

The red tape involved in becoming a licensed producer of cannabis is
partly fueling the widespread, mounting concern that demand will
outweigh supply in Canada in the early years of legalization. This has
unleashed fears that cannabis prices will rise, pushing consumers to
the black market - the very market that legalization was supposed to
wipe out.

"Right now, we're [Canada] looking at about one-eighth of the supply
that will be needed to meet demand.. I believe the last numbers I saw
were that they were expecting 800,000kg to be consumed in the first
year. And, we're currently able to produce about 100,000 kg," said

The Atlantic Cannabis Forum was just the beginning of many more
conversations to come for Austin and CBREN colleagues.

"We [CBREN] were just in discussions today [Nov. 6] about how we keep
this moving forward. People at the forum indicated they want to keep
things moving forward. We can help foster the best opportunities
possible for the counties within the CBREN."

"We need to bring the conversation to other municipal leaders and get
other people's opinions to ensure the provincial government has an
understanding about what we want and what we feel will be most
important. There's going to be challenges that are going to come along
the way, like what's this going to look like in our workplace. Those
conversations need to continue as well."
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