When he finally sees his pot on NSLC shelves it will be the end of a long road for Joe Sanford.
And the beginning of a new one for Nova Scotia’s first marijuana grower to receive a license from Health Canada to sell his product.
“It was a very large investment, especially with the amount of time it takes, from the moment you first put dollars in to the moment you start generating revenue,” said Sanford, operations manager and partner at Breathing Green Solutions.
Those first investments began five years ago when the construction entrepreneur and his father, Bill Sandford, started the work of creating a medical marijuana growing company.
The elder Sandford is the former CEO of Bluewave Energy and is now owner of Halifax-based SanStone Investments, which owns equipment and technology based companies around Nova Scotia.
The Sandfords reached out to family and friends to invest — there are now 90 Atlantic Canadian investors in Breathing Green Solutions.
“When we started, it was a touchy subject,” said the younger Sanford of commercial marijuana production. “That’s changed.”
The biggest change was the legal one that happened, the day after Breathing Green got its licence to sell — on Wednesday Nova Scotians were legally allowed to buy marijuana at select Nova Scotia Liquor Corp. locations.
When Breathing Green began, the plan was to be a medical marijuana producer, the change in the law by the current Trudeau Liberals — which the Sandfords had hoped for but were never guaranteed — will be good news for the company’s bottomline.
All the marijuana Nova Scotians were buying on Wednesday was coming from outside this province because the handful of producers in Nova Scotia hadn’t received final inspections in time from Health Canada.
“We’re hoping we can be on their (NSLC) shelves within two or three weeks,” said Sanford.
Breathing Green has already been in discussions with the NSLC and has crops from each of its seven grow-rooms stored and ready to go out the door.
Meanwhile, it expects to be shipping medical marijuana to customers by next week.
The marijuana will be shipped from a unique facility, a former NATO radar station in the Cobequid Hills.
The team of investors purchased the high-security facility in the Wentworth Valley in 2013, renovated it and added a 13,000 square-foot addition. Ultimately they plan on producing 2,500 to 3,000 kilograms of marijuana annually.
Breathing Green has 30 employees.
Company management has hopes of seeing its first return, after five years of investment, in December.
“We took a chance,” said Joe Sanford.
A chance that after a lot of money, a lot of learning, and a lot of hard work appears to be about to pay off.