Sask. cannabis company bought out to make infused beer, wines

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With the purchase of a local pot producer, a beer and wine company could bring Saskatchewan to the forefront of cannabis-infused beverages.

The Hill Street Beverage Company out of Ontario has signed a letter of intent to buy OneLeaf Cannabis for $16 million.

Terry Donnelly, chairman and CEO of Hill Street, said the company is going to use OneLeaf’s expertise and massive production facility just outside of Regina to help create its upcoming line of weed-infused beers and wines.

“We think this is the equivalent to the end of prohibition of alcohol, so we’re planning a multi-year strategy to be able to create a whole new portfolio or whole new category of beverages that we believe will be an alternative to alcohol,” explained Donnelly.

He added the acquisition is more of a partnership because OneLeaf’s team members are joining theirs, and a news release said Hill Street will be using OneLeaf’s large catalogue of cannabis cultivars.

The changes could also mean more jobs in the area; Donnelly said the company is projecting to hire 15 to 20 people per shift, with three shifts running all year.

Hill Street already produces award-winning non-alcoholic beers and wines, and he noted you need to know how to make those well before you can add marijuana to it.

According to Donnelly, Hill Street has partnered with a biotech company which has figured out how to add cannabis to beverages without any taste or odour.

“So our fantastic cabernet sauvignon and our sauvignon blanc and our craft beer taste exactly like they are intended to,” he said.

The high from these pot-infused beverages mimics the onset and duration of alcohol, according to Donnelly; it’s noticeable within minutes, lasts about an hour and a half, then is out of your bloodstream within hours.

Donnelly thinks these products are going to be big. He believes the production facility outside Regina will be at capacity from the beginning because Hill Street will be one of only a few companies making such products.

Cannabis edibles won’t be legal to sell until at least this fall, but Donnelly noted with regulations still unclear it could take until next February before the beverages make it on the shelves.

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