Friday, October 18, 2013
- Newspaper headline - September 26, 2013
Some are for it and some are against it but there’s one thing for sure; everyone’s talking about it. The “it” in question is the phoenix-like deal to turn the old Hershey chocolate plant in Smiths Falls, Ontario into a medical marijuana grow-op.
Reasonable people can debate at length the merits and demerits of marijuana but it appears to me that we are already on the path to its eventual legalization. And since that train seems to have already left the station, it behooves citizens of the Rideau Valley to get on board and enjoy the journey.
As I see it, the creation of a handful of jobs setting up and operating Smith Falls’ new fun factory is only one small part of the potential explosion in economic growth the region could soon enjoy.
Just like Hershey used to provide guided tours of its chocolate plant, the owners of the new facility could provide tours of its operation, a kind of seed-to-weed experience. And if the drug laws change soon, who knows, each visit could end just like the Hershey plant tours did with a free sample or two and the chance to buy a couple of ounces of your favorite product.
The spinoff effects could also be significant. Smith Falls could become eastern Canada’s pot destination of choice for cannabis tourists from around the globe. The growth in bed and breakfasts, all-you-can-eat restaurants and weed-tasting cafes could be explosive.
In the manner of other cutesy tourist towns, Smiths Falls could soon be home to quaint architecture, trendy head shops and fancy street signs with catchy new names like Doobie Drive and Justin Trudeau Lane.
Creative minds might also choose to expand this new tourist destination with attractions like a marijuana museum or even a marijuana theme park complete with fairly easy midway games, slow moving rides and lots and lots of concession stands.
I suspect that it won’t be long before the city fathers and mothers of Smiths Falls seize on this golden opportunity and start holding annual festivals. Their town could soon be home to everything from grass-themed music festivals to marijuana trade shows. It may not happen next year but don’t be surprised if you find yourself attending Weedstock in the near future.
Given the seeming inevitability of legalization, there’s also a golden opportunity for area farmers to start their own boutique marijuana growing and processing operations. Much like the Niagara region and northern California have done with wine, the Rideau Valley might well do with weed.
It won’t happen overnight, of course, but it won’t be too long before we can enjoy a drive or a quiet bike ride through the Smiths Falls region with a view to touring any number of pot farms and sampling and purchasing their unique wares. I predict that ten years from now, no one will be talking about B.C. Bud; instead all the buzz will be about Rideau Red.
Some are understandably leery of this new economic opportunity for the region but I’m the kind of guy who sees the bowl as being half full. With millions of potential grass tourists here in Canada alone, this is an opportunity Rideau Valley residents simply can’t let go up in smoke.