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Stellarton cannabis plant ready for license

Greg Wilson speaks at an event at Summer Street Industries about the potential growth of cannabis in Stellarton.
Greg Wilson speaks at an event at Summer Street Industries about the potential growth of cannabis in Stellarton. - Fram Dinshaw

The Zenabis cannabis plant in Stellarton will be producing legal weed by the end of this summer if it receives its license from Health Canada – which the company says it will soon have.

The company is currently working with engineers and its build and design team ahead of its final Health Canada inspection – and Zenabis says that strict standards will be met. This includes aspects ranging from product quality to building security.

“This is where we feel extremely confident,” said Zenabis CEO Kevin Coft Friday. “We operate at a very high level of excellence.”

Just hours earlier in New Glasgow, Ottawa-based venture capitalist Greg Wilson delivered a similarly upbeat message to a crowd gathered at Summer Street Industries as part of an event hosted by the Pictou County Chamber of Commerce.

Wilson, a co-applicant on the Health Canada application to develop Zenabis’ Stellarton plant, said that 50 initial jobs will be created when it opens. This figure could climb to 200.

More employees will be needed to staff the Zenabis plants in Atholville, New Brunswick, and Delta in British Columbia.

Both Coft and Wilson said that manufacturing weed was a labour-intensive process.

People with experience in plant science, pharmaceuticals, biochemistry and horticulture will be needed. They will be joined by human resources and management staff, IT specialists, security staff and others.

“There are a multitude of different positions available at a licensed facility, depending on what products we want to bring to market,” said Coft.

Citing provincial government numbers, Wilson said in his speech that legal weed would bring an estimated $19.4 million in extra tax revenues from the sale of 12 million grams. The legal weed market in Nova Scotia will be worth at least $150 million.

But this figure is a mere drop compared to the Canada-wide legal weed industry, projected to be worth $22 billion within five years of legalization, which federal and provincial governments can tax.

“The taxes [weed] generates is a big, big factor in driving this move to legalization,” said Wilson.

If weed is legalized federally in the United States – a non-starter under the hardline Trump Administration – the payoffs could be even more massive.

According Wilson, legal weed would generate $106 billion in taxes south of the border and create 646,000 new jobs, rising to one million by 2025.

However, recreational weed is already legal in nine states – Alaska, California, Washington, Oregon, Nevada, Colorado, Maine, Massachusetts and Vermont.

Washington and Colorado were the first to legalize recreational weed in 2012. Since then, millions of dollars in tax revenues flowed into their coffers, allowing for increased spending on healthcare, education and other services.

“Cultivation is fast becoming a commodity in more established markets like Colorado,” said Wilson. “This eventually will be the case in Canada.”

Most other states have legalized medical marijuana in some form, although many of these have limited the active THC chemical that produces the ‘high’ in weed.

While the federal government still criminalizes weed for any use, a majority of Americans now support full cannabis legalization.

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