Tweed & Cannabis Tourism in Canada
Updated: Nov 25, 2019
Article & Photography by Brent Robillard
Is Canada the new Amsterdam? Not yet, maybe. But there are those out there who hope to get in on the ground floor of what could quickly become a billion-dollar spinoff industry. Foremost among them is Tweed.
Since the legalization of cannabis in Canada, last October 2018, the pot grower has thrown open its doors to the public. The company’s Visitor Centre is located in the Eastern Ontario town of Smiths Falls in an industrial building that once hosted the Hershey Chocolate Factory. It offers a friendly and safe introduction to the plant, its uses—both medicinal and recreational—and the culture of pot consumption.
Beware, this is not your typical head shop. Tweed has the laid-back vibe of a spa and the posh atmosphere of a high-end boutique experience.
Tweed is a subsidiary of Canopy Growth, the world’s largest grower of cannabis. It is just one of Canopy’s numerous brands and partners, which include Spectrum Therapeutics, DNA, Craft Grow, Tokyo Smoke, Doja, and more.
The main goal of the Visitor Centre is to educate the public and break down the barriers and stereotypes which persist around marijuana usage, and the centre’s tour does just that. My tour was conducted by Andrew and Tess, and I can’t imagine a more knowledgeable pair. It begins with a slick historical video which outlines the humble plant’s origins in Ancient China, up through its cultivation and usage in the weaving of canvas for the British Empire’s navy, and then into its long period of prohibition during the twentieth century.
Biology is up next with displays and interactive exhibits which cover everything from plant varieties, cultivation, usage, and the wonderful world of terpenoids.
Then you get a glimpse of production. A glassed-in catwalk takes you on a journey around the grow op—the same viewing deck once used by Hershey visitors. You will catch indoor “greenhouses,” the Mother Room, plant nurseries, and the Flower Room.
Of course there is a gift shop, a café, and a lounge with its own library. If you were hoping for samples, alas, not here. In Ontario, you have to visit OCS to purchase your cannabis.
With only 31 reviews on TripAdvisor, the company definitely has room for growth—about 4.3 million square feet across the country, to be exact; however, estimates suggest Tweed will draw three to four hundred thousand visitors a year. I’m willing to bet those numbers are conservative. On the day of my visit, there was a group of two dozen seniors from the local hiking and trail association. Tweed, clearly, draws from across the spectrum.
The producer will be bolstering its product line in October of 2019 with edibles, extracts, and topicals. In fact, the company will go back to the roots of the building where it operates, and with the help of Hummingbird, Tweed will once again be producing chocolate—a process visible on the tour.
“Our only competition is the black market,” says, Andrew, at one point during the tour. And at the moment, Canopy Growth does have a strangle-hold of sorts on the production of cannabis. Now with the Tweed Visitor Centre, they are making bold moves for your tourism dollar, as well. But for the moment, this tour is FREE.
Rolling Greens Cannabis-Themed Golf
Jeanne Sherman, co-owner and operator of Lombard Glen, is selling her golf course after twenty-one years. This fall, it will undergo a name change. The new club will be known as Rolling Greens and it will be the world’s first cannabis-themed golf course. Sherman says, “It was time for a change, and the new owners have a lot of ideas. They’re hoping to capitalize on the tourism brought in by Tweed.” Just minutes outside Smiths Falls, Ontario, the home course of LPGA star Brooke Henderson will undergo a number of enhancements and expansions, including disc golf and glow-in-the-dark mini putt. Future plans include an outdoor movie theatre, carnival rides, and music festivals. “I knew the people who built this place,” says Sherman. “They always loved what we did here. We feel the same about the new owners.”