The legalization of marijuana has had tremendously positive effects on numerous small towns and communities across Canada. For many of these communities, legalization has been an economic driver that has resulted in increased employment and improved economic opportunities. However, while legalization may have helped some communities, the move towards legal weed has hurt others.
How Legalization Helped One Ontario Small Town
Smith Falls is a small community in eastern Ontario, between Ottawa and Kingston. Before the arrival of Canopy Growth Inc., a licensed cannabis producer, jobs and opportunities in this small town were scarce. Following the loss of the town’s Hershey chocolate factory in 2008, about 1,500 jobs left the town, leading one resident to describe the community as being ‘on life support’. However, when Canopy Growth moved into the unused Hershey factory in 2018, things changed.
The arrival of Canopy Growth brought with it nearly 300 jobs for local residents. Canopy Growth, which now goes by the name Tweed, was able to reverse much of the negative economic impact of Hershey’s earlier departure. The company has created a variety of both skilled and unskilled positions ranging from production assistants to customer service representatives. The establishment of operations in the town has not just helped those who stuck around following the closing of the Hershey factory, but has also lured new residents to the town.
How Government Weed Is Hurting An Entire Region In British Columbia
However, the establishment of the legal marijuana market has hurt communities that previously thrived in other markets. While some communities have been buoyed by the sudden influx of investment and employment, others have seen these opportunities disappear.
Cannabis farmers and distributors in British Columbia’s Kootenay Valley region have been operating in traditional markets for decades. The region has been so successful and influential in the cannabis trade that it has gained worldwide notoriety for its famed ‘B.C. bud’. Here, marijuana has supported communities following the closure of traditional industries like sawmills. Experts believe that this marijuana may comprise as much as 15%-30% of Kootenays economic output.
Despite the fact that much of the economic activity has been of this kind, it has been instrumental in driving investment and providing opportunity for local residents. However, as production has shifted towards new, licensed producers, Kootenay farmers are effectively being phased out of the market. As farmers slowly begin to go out of business, many worry about the economic aftermath of legalization in the region. Experts believe that cannabis money has been fuelling many other local industries including entertainment, real estate, and automotive sales. As this money dries up, it is expected that the economic effects will be felt throughout the region.