Nova Scotia doubling number of cannabis stores as sales flounder

Nova Scotia’s regulated adult-cannabis market continues to flounder, with the latest sales figures showing no improvement compared to the start of legalization almost two years ago.

Cannabis sales for the April-June 28 fiscal quarter were 17.3 million Canadian dollars ($13.17 million), according to the Nova Scotia Liquor Corp. (NSLC), which manages recreational marijuana retail in the province.

That’s about 10% lower than the previous quarter, when CA$19.3 million of cannabis products were sold in Nova Scotia.

The NSLC attributed the strong January-March results to the introduction of new cannabis products, including vape pens, as well as pantry loading in the early weeks of the COVID-19 pandemic.

However, that did not last.

Lower in-store traffic from April through June dented sales, as customers stayed away because of the coronavirus.

Retail transactions for cannabis fell 22.9% compared to the year-ago period, according to NSLC data.

Sales of locally produced cannabis (CA$2.6 million) were equivalent to those of locally produced wine and about half of Nova Scotia-made craft beer (CA$4.8 million).

While most provinces have seen consistent growth, Nova Scotia’s cannabis sales have been relatively flat since marijuana was legalized in October 2018.

That might be about to change, as the number of stores is set to double in the coming months.

The first of 14 new stores – announced in February – opened July 6.

Nova Scotia cannabis, Nova Scotia doubling number of cannabis stores as sales flounder
The “modular” cannabis store in Liverpool, Nova Scotia. (Photo courtesy of Nova Scotia Liquor Corp.)

“We are pursuing a modular concept for all of the (new) stores except Tantallon, which is in the Halifax Regional Municipality,” spokeswoman Beverley Ware told Marijuana Business Daily.

“This approach is cost effective, adaptable and flexible, depending on the footprint of each store.”

The NSLC budgeted CA$2.48 million for the renovations.

The 14 new stores will bring the total number of cannabis points-of-sale in the province to 26.

Thirteen of the 14 are modular stores, meaning they are smaller – 200-400 square feet – and located inside existing alcohol stores.

The modular units are built off-site and assembled within existing alcohol stores, Ware said.

Three stores are set to open in September, including in Elmsdale, Mill Cove in Bedford and Tacoma Drive in Dartmouth.

Cannabis stores will open in the fall in Tantallon, Tatamagouche, Baddeck, Glace Bay and Port Hawkesbury.

The remaining stores will open early next year.

The modular stores carry a smaller assortment of products – approximately 100 – because of their size.

However, the cannabis store in Tantallon will carry the full product assortment available in the other co-located cannabis stores.

“The cannabis section in Tantallon will look like our existing cannabis stores – a full cannabis store that’s accessible from within our beverage alcohol stores,” Ware said.

Six Nova Scotia companies are among licensed producers supplying the NSLC, including:

  • Aqualitas.
  • AtlantiCann Medical.
  • Breathing Green Solutions.
  • Highland Grow.
  • Robinsons Cannabis.
  • Truro Cannabis.

Matt Lamers is Marijuana Business Daily’s international editor, based near Toronto. He can be reached at