A craft cannabis company that celebrates all things Newfoundland and Labrador will soon be hitting the province’s retail shelves.
BeeHigh Vital Elements Inc. got the green light from Health Canada on May 1 to start shipping products to local stores, the company said in a Monday press release.
The compay said it’s the only cannabis producer to grow, process and sell its cannabis in NL, giving residents a hyper-local, craft weed option.
“Craft cannabis is very important to us because we believe that people deserve to get value for their money,” founder and CEO Rita Hall said in an email. “Everything is done by hand — from watering to drying, curing, trimming and then our approach to storage. It’s important to do things this way if you want to realize the full benefits of the plant. You have to be so careful not to destroy the trichomes and a craft approach helps ensure quality.”
The company managed to earn approval from Health Canada to sell their products just before the COVID-19 pandemic froze the licensing process, Hall said.
The Corner Brook-based facility had its pre-sales audit in early March, which turned out to also be a full facility audit, Hall said. That was a surprise, but it went smoothly, she said.
A week after the inspection, BeeHighVE got an email from the regulator saying all in-person inspections were suspended due to the pandemic and normal duties would now take extra time to process. But on May 1, the company heard back from Health Canada and was awarded permission to sell its products locally.
This is a step that Hall has been waiting on tenterhooks for.
“Getting our amendment was so important for us,” she said. “We have not been making money since we started down this road and everything about this industry is over-the-top and expensive.”
BeeHighVE was the first company to receive a cultivation licence in NL in November 2018 when it hired 50 locals to help build its facility in Corner Brook — a notable number in the town of just over 30,000.
The company also partnered with the Madawaska Maliseet First Nation to retrofit an existing fish plant in New Brunswick for its second production facility. In July 2018, the company and the First Nation signed an agreement that allows BeeHighVE to build on their reserve, and gives the First Nation an ownership stake in the company. Once the two facilities are complete, the company projects it will have 100,000 square feet of production space in 2021.
The strains produced by BeeHighVE all gives homage to the province. Vinland Diesel pays homage to the viking settlement in NL, while Captain Cooked is a nod to Captain Cook’s history of surveying the coastline during the 1760s. Strains like CBeeD and BeeBomb play up the apiarist-theme.
It’s more than just a name though. The company produces “the world’s finest honey” and is in the process of launching a lineup of cannabis-infused honey edibles.
For now Hall says her business is finalizing a distribution deal with the province, which could include opening its own retail storefront in Corner Brook.
Weathering the pandemic hasn’t been easy, Hall said she’s had to cut back on their staff to stay afloat. But it’s also allowed her to spend more time working with her plants, which she loves.
“We can’t wait to get our hand-crafted products to market. It’s not just about making money, it’s a sense of pride that we have in growing our product here on a tiny island and knowing that we stand neck in neck with the best of them,” she said.
Top image: Vancouver entrepreneur Stephen Sandve holds out a tray heavy with honey. His one-man company, East Van Bees, produces urban honey. Photo by Michelle Gamage