Smiths Falls is a small town in Canada with a little under 9,000 people. The town was hit hard by the 2008 financial crisis, as three factories in the town shut down including Canada's largest Hershey's chocolate factory. About 1,500 jobs left the town in only a couple of years, a huge number for such a small town.
“Smiths Falls was basically on life support,” said Jamie Norris, a lifelong resident of the town. “People were losing their houses and losing their vehicles.”
But in 2013 cannabis startup Canopy Growth was looking for a place to set up shop. Smiths Falls had the perfect place: the abandoned Hershey's factory. Canopy initially hoped to employ around 150 people and take up about one-third of the Hershey's factory.
But then the Canadian government decided to legalize recreational marijuana. This led to major investments into the country's cannabis companies, including Canopy Growth. This led to massive expansion for the company, and what began as only 150 jobs in Smiths Falls eventually grew to 1,500, the same amount lost after the 2008 financial crisis.
The town's housing market is rebounding, and the population is growing for the first time in a decade.
Perhaps some other struggling towns around North America should look to Smiths Falls to show the potential of marijuana legalization.
(h/t KARE 11)