Dispensaries in Nova Scotia
Canada’s second-smallest province has it’s own take on the gray market
By Jamie Shaw
August 18, 2017
Featured image by Dennis Jarvis.
Nova Scotia is Canada’s second-smallest province, so perhaps it isn’t surprising that it tends to slip under the media radar. While Vancouver makes headlines for regulating dispensaries, and Toronto makes them for raiding dispensaries, little attention has been paid to Nova Scotia’s capital: Halifax.
For a long time, Halifax was served by a single dispensary, one that had been raided on more than one occasion. It's current incarnation is Farm Assists, and its owner Chris Enns is still facing a court date from an earlier raid, but it isn’t the only dispensary in town anymore. “In 2014, the Farm Assists was still the first and only store-front dispensary in the city, ” said Mr Enns, “we now have at least a couple dozen.”
And it isn’t just dispensaries. Mr Enns said “the most exciting though I think is the advent of value-added producers, extract makers, and edible companies that we’re now seeing spring up at home in the maritimes, filling a niche where dispensaries and patients no longer have to order from Provinces away.”
The city of Halifax chose a low-key approach by requiring dispensaries to obtain an occupancy permit. Farm Assists received one of these permits in 2014, though they have heard that others were having a more difficult time. Some of these businesses simply opened as a mainstream business, obtained their occupancy Permit, and then switched over to storefront cannabis sales.
And it isn’t just Halifax. A dispensary in Truro was raided and reopened, and Cape Breton also had a dispensary raid (it is unknown if this establishment has reopened at this time). Middleton, Bedford, Dartmouth, New Minas, Wolfville, Bible Hill, Windsor, and Westville all have cannabis retail outlets easily searchable online, and this is in a province that doesn’t even have a million people in it.
Just outside the town of Canning (pop. 2589), the deGraaf’s Kwik-Way earns great reviews as the place to pick up ‘anything you might need’. When I passed through in 2015, they had a pretty decent collection of bongs, pipes, and grinders. In 2017, their cannabis merchandise section almost compares to a Puff location. When asked about it, the lady at the counter said ‘as soon as we’re allowed to sell Cannabis, we will’. I then asked if they were ready for legalization and before she could answer, a young woman's voice yelled from the back “can’t fucking wait!”
Back in Halifax, Chris Enns is concerned that charges laid against him in 2014 and 2015 are all still before the courts. “We have a 30-day jury trial set for 2018, but we’re really not expecting that to happen because the dates for the constitutional challenge still are not set, and that’ll be a lengthy process in itself,” he said, adding that many others locally have had their charges dropped or resolved rather quickly.
“It gives us optimism when we see the lack of excitement the city seems to have around raiding dispensaries, there doesn’t seem to be this urgency to dealing with the issue,” Mr Enns said, “and there does seem to be at least some dialogue starting to happen.”
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