One of the favorable factors of cannabis legalization is the scope of its abilities to create new jobs and alleviate unemployment. A textbook example of the authenticity of this premise is the tiny Canadian town, Smiths Falls, Ontario, Canada.
Smiths Falls is a small town with a little under 9,000 residents. The town was hit hard by the 2008 recession, as three factories—including the country’s largest Hershey’s chocolate factory—shut down. The town lost approximately 1,500 jobs in a matter of a couple of years.
Jamie Norris is a tow truck driver and lifelong resident of Smiths Falls.“Smiths Falls was basically on life support,” Norris told KARE 11. “People were losing their houses and losing their vehicles.”
Coincidentally, in 2013 cannabis startup Canopy Growth was looking for land to set up shop. There were plenty of abandoned factories in Smiths Falls and the Hershey’s factory happened to be the perfect fit! And luckily, right around that time, the Canadian Government decided to legalize cannabis. This led to major investments into the country’s cannabis industry, including Canopy Growth. There was massive expansion for the company, and what began as only opening 150 jobs in Smiths Falls eventually grew to 1,500, roughly the same amount lost after the 2008 financial crisis. In four years, the company shipped one million medical cannabis orders across Canada. After recreational cannabis sales began in October 2018, their next one million orders were shipped in four weeks. It is now the largest cannabis dealer in the world, growing from 35 staff members to more than 3,000 worldwide in just five years.
Progress has ripple effects—one thing leads to another and then another. Everything in Smiths Falls is still rebounding—first the cannabis company opened up jobs now the town’s housing market is recovering and the population is growing for the first time in a decade. Smiths Falls, the town that was on the verge of turning into a ghost town only a few years ago is a thriving now, thank to cannabis.