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German cannabis company NS expansion has been hampered by COVID-19 restrictions and concerns

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Nova Scotia’s cannabis expansion into the German market has been temporarily hampered by pandemic travel restrictions and concerns about the Omicron variant.

Aqualitas Inc. was forced to It laid off seven workers last month because German federal inspectors were unable to visit its growing facility in Brooklyn on Nova Scotia’s South Shore.

The licensed producer has become known for growing cannabis organically in ponds filled with koi fish – a process known as aquaponics – in part of a former paper mill in Bowater.

Founder Myrna Gillis said the company harvests thousands of kilograms annually, nearly 30 percent of which is sold in Nova Scotia.

But Gillis said a contract to sell cannabis to Canamedical Pharma GmbH, a medical cannabis wholesaler based in Cologne, could double production, aiming to sell an additional 5,000 kilograms annually.

These koi fish provide nutrients to some of the cannabis plants grown in aqualitas. (Paul Palmeter/CBC)

“We’re going to have to expand to meet the full contract commitment, and we certainly intend to do so if the numbers justify it,” Gillis said.

“We have enough capacity to handle this contract, and we expect the initial numbers to be, perhaps 1,000-1,500kg to start.”

Gillis said it hired an additional 13 employees to cover the increase, but without site inspections by German officials, exports did not occur.

The initial delay was caused by Canadian travel restrictions requiring hotel quarantine in Toronto, followed by mandatory two-week isolation in Nova Scotia.

But even as international travel restrictions ease, concerns about Omicron are delaying the inspection trip once again.

Gillis said he hopes German officials will be able to conduct a site inspection in June. The approval process takes less than a month after the examination.

Aqualitas has already sold medical cannabis within the European Union, and has a separate application in the works for selling products in the United States, according to Gillis.

Gillis said Aqualitas currently employs 84 people between the company’s Bedford office and its facilities in the Queens municipal area.

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