Old mining town becomes a growing hub for cannabis

Published: Jun. 8, 2023 at 6:41 PM MST
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TUCSON, Ariz. (13 News) - Formerly known as the home of North America’s largest copper mine, the town of San Manuel is becoming a growing destination for marijuana.

Since the mine’s remaining smokestacks were demolished in 2007, residents in San Manuel have had to find jobs elsewhere. But with the establishment of the Flower Mine cultivation facility two years ago, jobs and water made a quick return.

The Flower Mine is a 100,000-square-foot facility where staff oversees the growth of marijuana from seed to harvest. Since its founding, the cultivation site has brought 75 jobs to the community.

Job availability in and around San Manuel was limited, with most openings in the restaurant and construction industries. The cannabis industry was a new market that hadn’t been explored much before.

“From mining to here,” said Nathaniel Lopez, a mother lead at the Flower Mine, “this is a job that’s more accepting to anybody that wants to apply for it.”

“You don’t have to just be someone that has to work super hard in a dangerous environment,” he said.

Living in San Manuel his whole life, Lopez knows just how important job opportunities are in his hometown.

Today, he is proud of his work.

“It feels good to have a big product coming out of this town,” Lopez said. “This used to be one of the biggest mining towns in Arizona, so to have something of largeness in the community is great.”

Another large feat was bringing water back to the area. The facility was able to drill a well for a water supply, and the facility even created a partnership with the San Manuel Ray Blair Airport to increase water accessibility across the area.

Though the well provides water to the facility, the Flower Mine reuses 75% of the 15,000 gallons of water used daily.

“We have access to our own wells and that’s what we utilize, but to be able to justify expanding and developing this community was an opportunity we couldn’t pass,” said Greta Brandt.

Brandt is the president of The Flower Shop, the parent company that oversees the cultivation facility and dispensaries across Arizona and Utah.

Brandt also shared that the company has partnered with local schools in San Manuel, where donations provide uniforms, scoreboards and other resources to be utilized by students.

The Flower Mine produces over 90 strains of cannabis and harvests a total of 31,000 pounds of flower a year.

Though the operation and staffing are nowhere near what the old copper mine had, officials at the Flower Mine say it is a step in the right direction.

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