For decades, the small town of Smiths Falls, located south of Ottawa, was synonymous with the Hershey’s chocolate factory. Now the refurbished facility at 1 Hershey Drive is a state-of-the art grow operation for medical marijuana owned by Tweed Inc., a subsidiary of Canada’s largest medical marijuana producer, Canopy Growth Corp. Along with its sister company Tweed Farms, a 32,516-square-metre greenhouse facility in Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ont., Tweed is at the forefront of the fledgling medical marijuana industry in Canada. Here’s a peek inside the two facilities.
All photos courtesy Tweed Inc.
Workers tend to cannabis plants in late stages of growth at the Tweed Farms greenhouse. There’s a chance you’ve consumed something from the Tweed Farms greenhouse; it was originally built in the 1990s to grow produce, including cucumbers, tomatoes and herbs, for national grocery chains.
Tweed Farms makes use of natural sunlight and closed-loop water systems to grow large quantities of medical marijuana in its 32,000-square-metre operation, the largest marijuana greenhouse in the world. Plans are already underway to build a second facility on the 20-acre property.
Tweed's Smiths Falls facility is currently operating at 40 per cent capacity, with construction ongoing. In all, the property at 1 Hershey Drive consists of eight buildings and more than 43,000 square metres of manufacturing and distribution space, 15,600 square metres of which is licensed for medical marijuana production.
One of 12 high-security, Health Canada-regulated indoor grow rooms at the Smiths Falls facility. Environmental conditions are carefully monitored in order to produce consistent and safe medical cannabis. Another 18 grow rooms will be added to the facility in the future.
In a "mother room" at the Smiths Falls outfit, clones are clipped from "mother plants" to grow more marijuana plants of the same strain. This process is more efficient than growing new plants from seed each time and results in a more consistent product. Tweed houses hundreds of different seed types in a climate-controlled vault in Smiths Falls.
In Smiths Falls, members of Tweed's research and development staff examine cannabis plants that are grown aeroponically — that is, without soil. Tweed is currently working with researchers from the University of Ottawa and Toronto's Ryerson University on a number of projects.
Once cannabis buds are harvested from plants in grow rooms, they are placed on drying racks and left in climate-controlled rooms to cure.
Dried cannabis flowers are packed into child proof containers. Dried buds are one way for medical marijuana users to consume the product, either through smoking or vaping.
Cannabis buds can also be ground to a fine powder and heated — a process known as decarboxylation — to extract cannabis oil for ingestion rather than inhalation.
Different strains of dried marijuana, packaged and ready for delivery via Canada Post. To date, Tweed has developed 30 strains, each with a unique potency, flowering time and aroma to meet various patients' needs.