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Antigonish County man has high hopes for medical

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_db_   Sunday, 02/01/15 10:42:22 AM
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Antigonish County man has high hopes for medical pot startup
AARON BESWICK TRURO BUREAU
Published January 30, 2015 - 7:39pm
Last Updated January 30, 2015 - 7:52pm

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Frank MacMaster of Ohio, Antigonish County, is the owner of THC Dispensaries Canada Ltd. He anticipates being fully licensed by Health Canada to produce medical marijuana this spring. (AARON BESWICK / Truro Bureau)
Frank MacMaster of Ohio, Antigonish County, is the owner of THC Dispensaries Canada Ltd. He anticipates being fully licensed by Health Canada to produce medical marijuana this spring. (AARON BESWICK / Truro Bureau)

OHIO — There was a happy man at the controls of a skid steer loader in Antigonish County on Friday.

It wasn’t the freezing rain expected to come in the evening that had a smile on his face.

Frank MacMaster was smiling because he anticipates growing 11,000 kilograms of marijuana a year.

“All I am is a construction worker and a farmer,” said MacMaster. “But a few years ago I took a chance and got in early on the medical marijuana licensing process.”

MacMaster is founder and president of THC Dispensaries Canada Ltd., a company that’s leading the pack of hopeful medical marijuana producers in Nova Scotia looking to get licensed by Health Canada.

The last hurdle is the installation of an air handling system, expected to be complete in late March, before the facility’s pre-licence inspection by Health Canada.

Then it’s plants in the ground for THC Dispensaries Ltd.

MacMaster won’t be growing 11,000 kilograms of medical marijuana out of the starting gate — that will wait for a 100,000-square-foot expansion planned for the facility in Ohio, Antigonish County.

“As soon as we get our licence, Matica (MacMaster’s backers) are talking about doing a $10-million, 100,000-square-foot expansion,” he said.

“Even if we only went with a 50,000-square-foot expansion, we’re talking about employing 40 to 60 people right here.”

Five years ago, MacMaster was an industrial electrician with a shuttered abattoir.

With a young daughter, he had built the business thinking it would mean he could stop heading to the Northwest Territories for his job at a diamond mine.

But the hours were long and he quickly learned that if he didn’t invest a lot of money he didn’t have and get big quickly, he’d have to get out.

So he closed MacMaster’s Meats and turned the lights off at the fully inspected, brand-new facility he’d built only a few years earlier.

He started heading north again for work.

“But I had my eye on the medical marijuana industry all along.”

So he took a gamble two years ago and applied to Health Canada under the previous research and development process.

When the new Marihuana for Medical Purposes Regulations were issued, he transferred his application to that and found himself near the front of the line.

He had the building, but he needed money for renovations, expertise and a security system.

Venture capital has been flocking to proposed medical marijuana operations in Stellarton, Truro and locations across the country. MacMaster teamed up with Ontario-based Matica Enterprises Ltd., which bought 50 per cent of his company.

Now his little beef farm, down a long dirt road in Antigonish County, is set to become the province’s first large-scale medical marijuana producer.

“What’s the point in living if you don’t take some chances,” he said. “But it looks like Frankie MacMaster and his foolish ways are about to pay off.”

And it means he won’t be heading to the Arctic for work again any time soon.

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