Rita Hall is a powerhouse. The Corner Brook, NL resident is President and CEO of BeeHighVE, a medical cannabis company with a strong focus on CBD products. Now, she’s set to become Canada’s first Aboriginal woman to obtain Licensed Producer (LP) status – in all of Canada, not just Newfoundland. She’s also a PipeDreemz client.
PipeDreemz has been proud to work with and continue to advise Rita through the Access to Cannabis for Medical Purposes Regulations (ACMPR) process to apply for LP status.
To celebrate International Women’s Day (and Rita), we sat down with her to talk about Corner Brook, how BeeHighVE came to be, and what’s next for her beloved company, city, and the industry.
Congratulations on all of your progress so far! This is such an amazing achievement. Tell us what it means to you.
Thank you! Yes, we already have our inspection date booked with Health Canada and are just around the corner from becoming a Licensed Producer in the Province of Newfoundland. It’s a true sense of accomplishment for us.
But this is not only a success story for BeeHighVE; it will be a huge achievement for the City of Corner Brook as well. Our local contractors are working so hard to help us make this work.
The medical aspects of CBD had a big effect on your desire for LP status. Why?
I’ve seen the positive impact of CBD, on members of my own family, for pain caused from inflammation and autoimmune disease.
Newfoundland has the highest incidence rates of cancer per capita in Canada and the province also has one of the highest percentages of people with arthritis in the country. There is a “new user” population, on the rise in Canada and the US, and it is people with pain. The new user is someone who is looking for healing and not necessarily a high.
What were your biggest fears about approaching this project?
I was actually afraid of what people would think about it and of how they would perceive me and the company.
Since I have gone public with my intentions to become an LP, I have received overwhelming support.
I was speaking with a woman from one of my old neighbourhoods recently. This woman’s son passed away when he was only four. He had epilepsy and apparently, he died because the medicine that he was taking for seizures caused kidney and liver problems and the damage was fatal. She recently heard about CBD in the treatment of epileptic seizures and told me that she wished she had access to it while her son was alive. I could see that it was still painful for her. As a mother of two, the story truly touched my heart.
What was the most difficult part?
Nothing about it is easy. While there are already around 60 other production facilities across Canada, there is no standard footprint. Our decisions are based on meeting some stringent regulations through the ACMPR as well as through municipal and provincial government regulations.
The dream is a big one that takes a crazy amount of effort. Thank goodness for all of the good resources that we have around us – from our consultants at PipeDreemz, to our local architects, engineers, and contractors.
What surprised you the most?
Corner Brook is not a large city, so I was skeptical about finding the right skills to meet my requirements for the project. But the talent in this place truly amazing. I am very proud to call it my home. We are getting the job done and we’re getting it done right. In the end, this will be the city’s success and I’m so hopeful that we will all reap the benefits from the project soon.
Some have given you the impression they feel you’ve had “advantages” in the process because you’re an Aboriginal woman. What would you say to those people?
I want people to know that nothing was handed to me because I’m an Aboriginal woman. If I didn’t do this the right way from the start, I wouldn’t be where I am. I am a very hard worker and I’m fortunate enough to have a partner who works equally hard. We didn’t just jump into this blindly overnight. We both did a lot of research, attended conferences and shows, and took courses in marijuana production and facilities management in accordance with the ACMPR.
I may become the first Aboriginal Woman as President and CEO of a medical marijuana facility in Canada. This would be a huge sense of accomplishment. I know what it takes to get to this point – regardless of who you are. I feel that women are under represented in this new industry, so this is another thing that drives me to succeed.
What was it like working with PipeDreemz as consultants?
They are a great group of people to work with and are quite knowledgeable in the industry. They have been dedicated to our project and have worked hard for us every day and night of the week as needed. I can’t thank them enough for helping us get to where we are today.
What does bringing jobs and a medical facility to Corner Brook mean to you?
It’s extremely exciting!
There have been some great development opportunities in Eastern Newfoundland and the area has grown as a result. It’s Corner Brook’s time to have something this big.
What’s next for BeeHighVE?
Growing and researching marijuana for medicinal purposes is only the beginning for BeeHighVE.
We fully expect to produce other products for human consumption as regulations allow and to investigate marijuana as a treatment for sick animals if this becomes legal.
In parallel to growing medical marijuana, BeeHighVE intends to pursue bee farming and will be looking at producing honey and CBD infused honey edibles once this becomes legal. NL’s Bees are varroa mite free and therefore antibiotic free. They are very unique not only in Canada but around the world.
Thank you again to Rita – such an inspiring story for International Women’s Day – for women in the industry and nationwide. Please do learn more about her on beehighve.ca.