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Crown corp boss co-owns sole provider of NSLC's rolling papers

A package of Canadian Woods rolling papers rests on a bottle of cannabis.
A package of Canadian Woods rolling papers rests on a bottle of cannabis. - Tim Krochak

The only brand of rolling papers sold at the Crown corporation selling pot is partially owned by the president of another Crown corporation.

Malcolm Fraser, president and chief executive officer of the provincially funded economic development agency tasked with providing venture capital to startups, is also a silent partner in Canadian Lumber Co.

When you go to buy your pot at the renovated Nova Scotia Liquor Corporation cannabis outlets you’ll find that Canadian Lumber rolling papers are the only ones they carry.

“This is a market for the private sector to fulfil so we offer just a limited selection of basic accessories for a customer to be able to use and safely store the product,” said NSLC spokeswoman Beverley Ware of why the Crown corporation is only stocking Canadian Lumber rolling papers.

The all-natural rolling papers are made by a Halifax-based numbered company with a trademark on the name Canadian Lumber Co.

It is in the process of moving into new offices on Lady Hammond Road.

Fraser said that he invested in the company in early 2016 and only started as the head of Innovacorp last October.

“I had no role in the negotiations with NSLC,” said Fraser.

Canadian Lumber responded to a February expression of interest issued publicly by the NSLC as the latter prepared to fulfill the mandate appointed it of being this province’s seller of legal pot products.

The tender issued by NSLC asks companies growing pot, making pre-rolled joints, oil extracts, clones and seeds and accessories to contact them.

While Canadian Lumber responded, it was its distributor – Humble & Fume – that negotiated the contract with NSLC.

“We don’t deal directly with any of the companies that provide accessories,” said Ware.

“We delegated Humble & Fume to source our accessories because it is Canada’s largest supplier. We didn’t do any negotiations with Canadian Lumber and were not aware of Mr. Fraser’s connection to the company.”

Canadian Lumber is the brainchild of founder Beau-Brandon Cleeton.

“You would be surprised what’s in most of the rolling papers on the market,” he said on Monday.

“There’s chalk, there’s bleach. Our products are 100 per cent natural.”

A pot smoker, he came up with the idea for all-natural rolling papers two years ago after having trouble finding any on the market.

He contacted paper manufacturers in China, developed a prototype, branding and then went looking for investors.

In 2016 he pitched the idea to Fraser – an old friend and business acquaintance.

“He came on board and helped find other investors,” said Cleeton.

“He was a big help.”

From there they went to Humble & Fume to be their distributor.

“It was Humble & Fume that got us into the NSLC,” said Cleeton.

“I’m just happy that the NSLC is supporting a local company and giving us this amazing opportunity to grow right here at home.”

Including Cleeton, the company currently has three employees.

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