Former Ontario chocolate factory may become medical marijuana grow-op
Published Thursday, September 26, 2013 7:52AM EDT
Last Updated Thursday, September 26, 2013 1:15PM EDT
A former Hershey's chocolate factory in eastern Ontario may soon be producing another popular product: marijuana.
Ottawa-based medical marijuana supplier Tweed Inc. is looking to set up an expansive grow-op in the old Hershey's plant in the town of Smiths Falls, pending approval from Health Canada.
If and when the company gets approval, Tweed will be taking over 180,000 square feet of the massive factory, which was closed in 2007.
Smiths Falls Mayor Dennis Staples told CTV's Canada AM that while it's too early to say what the community reaction will be, from an economic perspective it's good news.
"It's actually welcome news for Smiths Falls given the fact that our community of 9,000 in the last five to six years has lost close to 1,700 jobs," he said.
Staples said the area has been especially hard hit following a three-year period in which the Hershey's plant closed, followed by the closure of Stanley Tools and the Rideau Regional Centre – a former home for the mentally disabled.
Tweed says that if it receives Health Canada approval, it will start a $1.5-million retrofit of the Hershey's plant and will immediately create 20 full-time jobs. Once the plant is in full production – estimated to be in early 2014 -- at least another 100 jobs will be created.
"From that point of view, this is a welcome bit of news for our community and our area," Staples said.
Tweed Inc. CEO Chuck Rifici told CTV Ottawa that the old Hershey's plant is a "phenomenal" facility.
Once the facility is ready for production, it will be another three to four months before Tweed's products will be available for authorized medical marijuana users.
With files from CTV Ottawa