Pot Industry Revitalizes Entire Canadian Town's Economy

The marijuana industry is coming to the rescue of Smith Falls, Ontario, an old factory town that is experiencing an unlikely renaissance now that Canopy Growth Corp., Canada’s largest publicly-traded cannabis producer, has become the town’s largest private-sector employer.

This summer, Canada will become the second country after Uruguay to legalize marijuana at the federal level, which has driven a boom in the local cannabis industry, according to Bloomberg.

Smiths Falls, Ontario - population 8,885 - is seeing a revival of fortunes since medical marijuana producer Tweed Inc. set up shop four years ago in an abandoned Hershey Co. chocolate factory. The company, since renamed Canopy Growth Corp., has become the world’s largest publicly traded cannabis producer and is the town’s largest private-sector employer.

For Smith Falls, Canopy’s arrival heralded a boom in younger people moving to the town, located about 75 kilometers (47 miles) southwest of Ottawa. There are sometimes bidding wars on homes. New businesses are arriving. And commercial property is seeing renewed interest. Canopy, formerly known as Tweed Inc., took over an old Hershey factory to build a giant growing operation for medical marijuana. How’s that for symbolism?

We’re recognized as the pot capital of Canada - and we’re proud of that, Mayor Shawn Pankow said in an interview from the town hall, a two-story brick building erected in 1859 on the main street. The local economy is certainly far better today than it was before Tweed came to town.

We’re seeing positive impacts really across the economy, said Pankow, 52, who also runs a financial advisory firm. People are recognizing that Smiths Falls is a community that’s on the upswing.

This represents a dramatic shift from just a decade ago, when Smiths Falls faced an industry exodus with the shutdown of a Stanley Tools Manufacturing facility and the shuttering of the Hershey plant that Canopy now occupies. This was followed months later by the closure of the Rideau Regional Center for the developmentally disabled. The closures affected more than 1,500 people - one-fifth of the town’s population.

Canopy has since restored 360 of those jobs, creating a well-educated workforce that runs the administration, research, growing operations, packaging and shipping from the facility that still has signage and other remnants of its chocolate past. Construction crews can be heard hammering away.

An employee makes cuttings from marijuana plants at the Tweed Inc. facility.

Smiths Falls has faced ebbs and flows of industry throughout its history.

Nearly 200 years ago, crews came to build the Rideau Canal connecting Ottawa with Kingston. Decades later, the Canadian Pacific Railway arrived to provide a rail connection to the outside world.

But during the late twentieth century, the town experienced a wave of factory closings that devastated the local economy.

Frost & Wood Co., which began making farming equipment in 1846, evolved into a munitions factory during the Second World War that once employed 1,200 people before it closed in 1955. Coca-Cola Co. bottler Rideau Beverages was around until the 1970s.

RCA Victor, which came to town in 1954, employed 350 people at its height before leaving in 1978.

Hershey came in 1963 and within 25 years had 750 workers and a bustling plant that drew thousands of visitors. At one point, the town’s water tower boasted an image of a Hershey bar and the slogan “Chocolate Capital of Ontario.”

Four Degrees Brewing Co. recently opened. European canal boat operator Le Boat has occupied an 1840s-era Lockmaster’s House on the waterway that bisects town. It’s ramping up plans to bring 16 rental boats next summer for tourists to cruise the Rideau Canal, a UNESCO world heritage site.

Linton, whose company has soared to a market value of more than C$4 billion ($3.1 billion), sees room to further improve Smiths Falls. He wants to expand a retail area at his plant to draw visitors - akin to days when busloads of tourists toured Hershey’s and bought broken chocolate bars on the cheap. Beyond that, he’d like to see more restaurants, meeting places and a hotel to make it a destination spot.

“What the town lacks is a really great place for people to actually stay,” Linton said.

Aside from the hubbub over weed, Smiths Falls has another claim to fame: It’s the hometown of Brooke Henderson, the 20-year-old golfer who ranks sixth in earnings this year on the Ladies Professional Golf Association circuit.


BritBob Sat, 12/30/2017 - 15:37 Permalink

So, ask yourself a few key questions. Is legalizing Cannabis going to make this a better country or a worse one? Would you want to live in a neighbourhood filled with people who regularly smoke Cannabis? Would you want your kids regularly smoking pot? Now is the time to think about it because although it's easy to thoughtlessly legalize a drug like Cannabis, when things go predictably wrong down the road, it will be a lot harder to put the genie back in the bottle than people seem to think.

Lore Escrava Isaura Mon, 01/01/2018 - 11:08 Permalink

@ Escrava: You raise an important point. When advocates lobbied for legalization, what they had in mind was simply that -- legalization -- NOT formation of a government-administered cartel. 

I submit that the same people who chased the stuff before are the people who will be chasing it now, with the possible exception of medical users, particularly with regard to the potential uses of Cannabis Oil.  (The same applies to victims of the "Opioid Crisis," which appears to be an exercise tragically designed to build support for expanded government involvement in the narcotics industry, already largely captured by the American military-industrial and Big Pharma complex. 

Incidentally, I am hearing about larger marijuana operations in other parts of Canada.  There's a little publicly-traded company called Cannabis Wheaton (symbol CBD on the Canadian exchange) that's building a massive complex, equivalent to a large shopping mall, smack on top of agricultural land that was supposed to be reserved for food security.  It seems sleazy, but then, the whole industry strikes me as sleazy, kinda like the Milk and Cheese Mafia. 

In reply to by Escrava Isaura

HillaryOdor Gap Admirer Sat, 12/30/2017 - 20:37 Permalink

So, ask yourself a few key questions.

Sure, no problem.

Is legalizing Cannabis going to make this a better country or a worse one?

It will probably lead to a temporary tax windfall, but it involves a repeal of an idiotic law that gives government power, so let's call it a wash.

Would you want to live in a neighbourhood filled with people who regularly smoke Cannabis?

I want to live so far from people that I can't even see my neighbors.  What they do is their own business.  Even if I could see them I couldn't care less if they choose cannabis or alcohol or anything else as long as they are decent people.  Laws don't stop people anyway.  

Would you want your kids regularly smoking pot?

That is their decision to make, not mine.  How I feel about it depends on a lot of factors including their age, their success in other areas of life, and the dose and frequency of their use.  It is not some binary determinor of success or character.  That is a belief of simple minds

Now is the time to think about it because although it's easy to thoughtlessly legalize a drug like Cannabis, when things go predictably wrong down the road,

Nothing will go wrong, except the state will get more money.

it will be a lot harder to put the genie back in the bottle than people seem to think.

Yes it's always so difficult to increase the scope of state interference in our lives.  That's been my experience.

In reply to by Gap Admirer

Golden Showers Dilluminati Sat, 12/30/2017 - 23:51 Permalink

Personally, I'd much rather smoke than drink. But I don't smoke. Reason I don't smoke is because I don't want to deal with asshole dealers, and who knows where they got their product. Even if I got a medical card, would it nix my 2nd Amendment rights?

I wouldn't be much of a libertarian if I was for the prohibition of any of the hundreds of controlled substances. It also so happens that hemp in particular has hundreds of econonomic uses.

Thing about it is, I have no sympathy for anyone who ruins one's life with any substance. Especially myself. Someone in my family started doing meth and his entire carreer and family went down the toilet. He was a Marine, Prom King, star athlete... The very epitome of successful. That's life. In the case of my own family, it may have been the best worst thing that has ever happened to him. He hit bottom and bounced back. That's what fighters do.

I don't care what people put into their bodies. My biggest concern is the quality and the source of what people put in their bodies. With decriminalization of the substances people use illegally anyhow, there would be no incentive for the criminal activity that comes with illegal drugs. Just look at what comes with legal foods: heart disease, diabetes, obesity, cancers... God knows what GMOs do to one.

Again, I'd feel a lot safer if my neighbors sent me a text saying they were going to drop pharmaceutical clean LSD and might call if they freak out. Or they might text me if they wanna laugh their asses off. Maybe it's worth going over and smoking a blunt and making smores at the campfire. The first thing I'd do if it wasn't unlawful to briefly augment my consciousness is eat a bag of mushrooms. I'd cook down some DMT, grow morning glories, and greenhouse salvia. Datura grows in my yard. Not about to eat that shit. Pick your poison. There would never be any Black Nobility without the Opium trades. And Mena. Shit; the octopus uses First Nations to smuggle drugs in a network that includes money laundering through casinos, creating a wealth effect you don't want to think about that rots the entire government to the top. We all know it. Danny Cassalero knew it: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=USOW3m_ioBs

God Bless. Happy New Year.

In reply to by Dilluminati

JesseL Pure Evil Sat, 12/30/2017 - 17:48 Permalink

Take a good hard look at the country in a few years and you will see an overwhelming number of potheads dropping out of society.  Highway accidents in the past were due to alcoholics, and that has been replaced by distracted drivers texting and taking selfies as they careen down the highways, oblivious to the fact that they are driving on the wrong side of the road.

In a few more years the distracted drivers will be displaced by zoned out potheads.  I hope to God that they get those self driving cars on the road as soon as possible.  


In reply to by Pure Evil

One of these i… FIAT CON Sun, 12/31/2017 - 11:53 Permalink

I definitely seem to be a safer driver overall (statistically speaking & measured over a forty year timeframe) if I'm a bit stoned. Note: I didn't say a "better" driver, my main metrics are "emergencies" and whether any other road user feels the need to sound their horn. Both of which plummeted when I decided to ignore that particular law.  

It makes me more cautious and pretty much immune to anger when someone does something inconsiderate or stupid. My "incident" rate is zero if I smoke, higher if I abstain, so I smoke. I can't drive for shit if I've had a drink, but drink does make me feel like I am fangio.

My IQ seems unaffected, the numbers stay the same whenever I test, (I'd hoped it would make me less intelligent) but my will to "win at all costs", plummeted. I noticed right from the start that the number of violent altercations involving me fell to practically zero when I started smoking the stuff, which I now know it's becuase it offsets some of my natural jerkiness (or ADD to use the popular name for my brand of jerkiness) It's fair to say that me smoking dope makes the world for the rest of you a safer place, as it makes it easier for me to live a thoughful and harmless (maybe even more decent life than I'd otherwise have led, it's certainly freer of the overt conflicts that marred my pre-MJ life).

My kid doesn't smoke the stuff, I concealed my use of it until my progeny was old enough to make an adult decision.

I'd say it has it's uses, psychologically speaking for some people at least, and of course the tumour destroying properties of the oil have to be seen to be believed. If you are prone to picking up the occasional wart, the stuff is a godsend..



In reply to by FIAT CON

Dilluminati BritBob Sat, 12/30/2017 - 15:54 Permalink

I don't think it should be criminalized, however I don't also think it is something I want brain surgeons doing or other professionals.  I think it is a drug that the lower class should be allowed to consume as robotics and AI make them less important to society.  But criminalizing people for doing the drug doesn't make sense, if it were legalized tomorrow I wouldn't smoke it.  Might as well legalize other narcotics as well, but with this caveat: no bailing out the addicts. I'd imagine between some collective purchasing of drugs for medicare and medicaid, dropping the war on drugs, stop footing the bill for the addict, stop incarcerating people for drugs we would have essentially the SOMA underclass and the rest of society. 

I'm tired of arguing with, wrestling with, or coercing people to do things even if it is dumb and harmful.  Let me get stoned, fine with me.  But let it be a choice and no bailouts for the bad decisions.

In reply to by BritBob

Byrond Dilluminati Sat, 12/30/2017 - 16:40 Permalink

Because prescription drugs never got no one high, and doctors never ever abused no prescription drugs. And Marinol is not a prescription drug that's almost pure THC, not no how. And them morphine is for the upper class folk. No one in Seattle, Portland, Boston, Beverly Hills ever smoke the marijuana! They just take the morphine like the brain surgeons! It safe!

In reply to by Dilluminati

Dilluminati Byrond Sat, 12/30/2017 - 17:13 Permalink

Doesn't matter if it is vaping, smoking, alcohol, or pot.  Their are corporate interests at work and they don't give a fuck about the individual.  Same goes for the pharmacy industry, they don't care about getting people well, they care about profits.  When you look at the history of it all that is pretty evident.  Apple was caught sabotaging their customers and slowing down the phones.  The big difference is that as humans we consume stuff and it is healthy or not to degrees of our understanding.  Almost all of the legislation that tries and prohibit consumption fails.  The soda tax as an example, fat stupid people sucking down soda?  Cigarette tax as an example.. the government doesn't care about you quitting they just want the revenue.  But if you are spending large sums on drugs and alcohol, you might be stupid or at a minimum mismanaging money.  The way I see it, no matter how much pot you would sprinkle on say Baltimore, just hand it out free.. the people there would still have a genetic drive to self-destruct.  Funny thing is: if you made it legal then people would probably look at it more objectively.  

In reply to by Byrond

Ms No Dilluminati Sat, 12/30/2017 - 17:49 Permalink

That's why all of the blue collar unions give urine tests that they know all of the guys on drugs can pass.  If there is an accident they have to go into the clinic and they wont be passing those tests.  Then they can blame them for the accident.  See how that works?  They would literally have zero employees if they didn't let them get around the screening. 

In reply to by Dilluminati

coast1 BritBob Sat, 12/30/2017 - 15:59 Permalink

a mass majority of people have already been smoking...Just because it is legal doesnt mean people will do it...For instance, if they made heroin legal, which I wish they would do, I would not do heroin because its legal..Marijuana has been around in mass since I was 16, which was 45 years ago..no deaths, no crazy people, and about the worst thing they will do is steal donuts from 7/11.  I grew 4 plants this year and they are as good as the dispensary, but I dont charge massive amounts per gram to sell it. Its for personal use, barter, or giving away. I, as well as many others can get drugs off the street, including heroin, coke etc anytime...If you do not like marijuana, or other drugs, then support the end of the CIA, not the illegalization of marijuana. Other countries have legalized all drugs and it has been an overwhelming success..

In reply to by BritBob

shadow54 BritBob Sat, 12/30/2017 - 15:59 Permalink

How do you put the genie back in the bottle?

Cannabis shops are opening all over Toronto in readiness for legalization. An article said that Toronto cops former and current, former premier of Ontario Ernie Eves are big investors in the pot industry. So it won't be the Hell's Angels running it. My sister who lives in small town Ontario is invested in the pot business.

I have much money in the bank, too lazy to invest and don't know how. But I won't invest in pot as I see it as evil. I hate the stuff. I've smoked it before. Makes me paranoid and aware of every pain in my body.

In reply to by BritBob