The small Canadian town of Smiths Falls has become the world capital of marijuana with Canopy Growth, the largest cannabis producer on Earth and with ambitious expansion plans around the world.
Even before Canada legalized recreational marijuana use across the country on October 17, Canopy Growth was the largest cannabis producer in the world, with a market value of about $ 11 billion.
The company, initially called Tweed, has been operating since its founding in 2014 producing marijuana for medical purposes thanks to the fact that in 2001, Canada legalized its therapeutic use.
But the great leap in growth came after the Canadian Liberal Party, led by current Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, won the general election in October 2015.
Among the main points of the Liberals' electoral program was the legalization of the recreational use of marijuana.
On October 17, Bruce Linton, the founder of Canopy Growth, recognized a small media group that as soon as the Trudeau and Liberals victory was confirmed, he knew that the marijuana business would expand rapidly.
"We knew you can not be re-elected if you do not keep your first promises, and that's what helped us concentrate on moving forward," confessed Linton.
To guarantee its growth, Canopy Growth acquired a former chocolate factory that the US multinational Hershey closed in 2009 in Smiths Falls, a small town of about 9,000 inhabitants one hour west of Ottawa.
Shawn Pankow, the mayor of Smiths Falls, explained to the press that after Hershey's abandonment, the population's greatest fear was the demolition of the factory, which for a decade had been its main economic sustenance.
When Linton and his team informed them of their intention to turn the chocolate factory into a marijuana plant, Pankow never imagined the outcome of the bet.
"The initial plan was to employ a hundred people and occupy a third of the plant, now it employs almost a thousand people here and is the world's largest producer of marijuana, the future is incredible, we are excited, we need more people working here," he said. mayor.
Inside the plant, safety and phytosanitary measures are extreme. The visitors have to put clothes and protectors on their shoes to avoid contamination. After passing two hermetic doors, the first sensation is the intense smell of marijuana plant.
In the rooms of the plant, the technicians of Canopy Growth perfect the different varieties of cannabis that they have developed in recent years and cultivate hundreds of plants in chambers where the light and humidity of the environment is controlled to the extreme.
In addition to growing crops inside the Smiths Falls plant, Canopy Growth has nine other growing centers in Canada. Increasingly, the company is avoiding production inside buildings in favor of greenhouses, to reduce their environmental impact.
In Smiths Falls, Canopy Growth also has laboratories to, among other things, develop beverages and edible products with cannabis that in the next 12 months will be legal in Canada.
The directors of the company recognize that beverages and edible products are the "next frontier" of the sector, with enormous economic possibilities.
So much so that, as recognized by the vice president of communications of Canopy Growth, Jordan Sinclair, Constellation Brands, which produces alcoholic beverages such as Corona, Modelo Especial or Negra Modelo, has invested 3.8 billion US dollars in exchange for 38% of the marijuana producer.
"The relationship with Constellation is twofold: on the one hand, it's a strategic relationship: they know more than we do about adding flavors, bottling and distributing beverages, but they have also given us 3.8 billion dollars for our worldwide expansion," he added.
At the moment, outside of Canada, Canopy Growth is only engaged in the production and research of marijuana for therapeutic purposes. But, as Linton acknowledged, things are changing rapidly around the world.
To questions from Efe, Linton explained that Canada has the opportunity to show the world how things can be done correctly and has the opportunity to become the world leader in marijuana.
"We have never had a better leadership position in anything since Graham Bell (the phone's inventor). The question is whether we will be able to take advantage of it," he added.