09/27/2013 12:20 EDT | Updated 09/27/2013 12:21 EDT

Smith Falls Chocolate Factory Switching To Medical Marijuana

It seems even chocolate factories have to grow-op.

A shuttered site that once rolled out Hershey bars is being targeted by Tweed Inc -- a Canadian start-up -- looking to get a leg up on the medical marijuana business.

“It’s an exciting opportunity,” Mark Zekulin, the company's vice president of community engagement, told Reuters Canada. “There is a demand and there’s good opportunity in this market.”

If successful, the move could actually spell its own sweet relief for a town that has fallen on hard times since the plant closed in 2008.

“The world has changed, and this is a legitimate business that (thousands of) Canadians rely on,” mayor Dennis Staples told the Ottawa Citizen. “It’s going to create jobs that we sorely need, and we hope that the remaining space continues to attract other tenants.”

The 470,000-square-foot site has already been conditionally sold to Tweed, with the company planning to spend an additional $1.5 million to get the grow op running -- along with hiring 100 people, according to Reuters.

"It's actually welcome news for Smiths Falls given the fact that our community of 9,000 in the last five to six years has lost close to 1,700 jobs," Staples said on CTV's Canada AM.

Since legalizing medical marijuana in 2001, the federal government has allowed the number of sanctioned grow-ops to swell from 500 to around 30,000, the Citizen reports.

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