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Inside the Cannabis Factory

RYAN DOUGLAS, MASTER GROWER FOR TWEED MARIJUANA: I think a lot of folks think that this facility is filled with a lot of Grateful Dead concert goers in a sense. So people anticipate a lot of long hair and tie-dye shirts. In my experience the plants don’t care how long your hair is… And that we have a lot of young people interested in horticulture who have maybe grown a little bit on their own and interested in actually making a legitimate, legal profession out of this line of work.
UNIDENTIFIED MAN: Uh, it’s pretty much a dream job…like, it doesn’t get better than this, really.
CHUCK RIFICI, PRESIDENT OF TWEED MARIJUANA: So this is really the…the heart of production where it all starts. So we keep each of the 25 strains that we are currently carrying. We keep a number of those plants and then take cuttings, or clones. This is just really where we keep the…the genetic stock, per se. I never saw myself working in a space like this. Even a year and a half ago I would not have believed it.
Medical marijuana in Canada has been legal for the last decade…some growing it for themselves, some having a designated grower for them. And Health Canada decided to change that system to one of having a heavily regulated, commercial, large-scale production. So we were very fortunate to have this building available. It ended up being quite ideal having an empty shell. A lot of power on sight, a lot of kind of post-industrial use. And then build our own kind of pharmaceutical manufacturing within that.
DENNIS STAPLES, MAJOR OF SMITHS FALLS: The vacant Hershey plant was purchased in late December of 2013 by Tweed Inc. and they’re producing medical marijuana there. Smiths Falls is a small community of 9,000 within a short commute to our nation’s capital of Ottawa – 45 minutes away. Most recently, uh, we had some serious economic downturns when uh, four or five of our major employers decided to close their operations and we lost 1700 jobs.
Hershey Chocolate, when they announced their closure in 2007, somewhere in the order in 5-600 people were affected. And we’re trying to do our best to promote more development and reinvestment happening in Smiths Falls and creating employment. So this was a key piece of that puzzle.
CHUCK RIFICI, PRESIDENT OF TWEED MARIJUANA: We currently have over 30 staff and uh, we’re currently producing about ten percent of our total capacity.
RYAN DOUGLAS, MASTER GROWER FOR TWEED MARIJUANA: So we have everything from coffee or chocolate smelling strains to blueberry or fruity smelling strains to some strains where you couldn’t even…you can’t think of the word to describe how it smells it’s so unique.
UNIDENTIFIED MAN: Argyle, Houndstooth, uh and we have Sherlock…Sherlock Holmes were a lot of Tweed. Some patients and customers would prefer the, kind of, street names so we list both.
RYAN DOUGLAS, MASTER GROWER FOR TWEED MARIJUANA: And we’re also highly regulated so there’s no question in terms of the quality, how well it was grown. Uh, we’re subject to audits from Health Canada. And we also, uh, have an extensive testing process for our finished product before it’s sent out the door.
UNIDENTIFIED MAN: Final destination…and, uh, we basically are authorized to, uh, hold 15,000kg of marijuana at this facility. Uh, street value of 100 million dollars plus.
DARLENE KANTOR, RESIDENT OF SMITHS FALLS: We lost Hershey’s plant. Everybody lost their jobs and they lost…some people lost their homes. Some people had to go on welfare, they had to go to the food bank. It’s a good thing for Smiths Falls. It needs uh…it needs…we need jobs.
TIMOTHI SCOTT, RESIDENT OF SMITHS FALLS: I think it’s a horrible idea. More of a reason for people to break in and do all different types of drugs around Smith Falls here.
SUSAN ROUSE, RESIDENT OF SMITHS FALLS: Tweed, when they came here they said that they were going to be hiring 100 new people from this town. That’s not going to happen.
DENNIS STAPLES, MAJOR OF SMITHS FALLS: I look at it from the point of view of being compassionate in that this product has been sanctioned by the federal government and Health Canada, and if we can be part of a solution here in Smiths Falls where a company wants to come along and start their business and produce product for those individuals that, through a medical requirement, require it for pain management. I’m proud to be part of that.

Source: nytimes

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