Big machines are plowing the ground, preparing for a cash crop.
The crop will be marijuana, but it will never touch this earth.
AmeriCann, a marijuana company, began work on the 52 acres it owns in the Business Park of Freetown, just over the Fall River line.
It will build a 130,000 square foot greenhouse, warehouse and laboratory to grow, process and package marijuana.
The facility will take marijuana from seed to buds or oils. The product will be pure enough and controlled enough for use in medicine, according to Tim Keogh, the president and CEO of AmeriCann, a marijuana service company based in Colorado.
AmeriCann purchased 52 acres of land that was formerly owned by the Boston Beer Co. Boston Beer planned to build a brewery on the site, but changed those plans after finding an existing brewery for sale in Pennsylvania.
AmeriCann stepped in with plans to build a marijuana grow house for hire.
AmeriCann will maintain the greenhouse and laboratory. Marijuana distributors will rent space and lab time to grow cannabis plants and convert them into oils, tinctures, lozenges or leaves to smoke.
Marijuana can be used as medicine for those with a prescription from a doctor. The sale of recreational marijuana products is set to begin in July.
Keogh is also the president of Bask Inc., the medical marijuana company that opened in Fairhaven two weeks ago.
Bask will be a client at the AmeriCann facility, filling its menu of cookies, caramels, energy bars, lozenges and lotions as well as marijuana leaf either by weight or in prerolled cigarettes.
“We have equipment out, moving earth this week,” Keogh said. “We expect to have an official groundbreaking sometime soon.”
On Friday, bulldozers, graders, rollers and dump trucks were on the site, leveling two areas where greenhouses will be built and grading what will be parking lots.
The site is on Ridge Hill Road. The ridges there are gone, taken away as fill when the state was building the elevated portion of Route 79 in Fall River 55 years ago.
The initial facility will be dedicated to producing medical marijuana. It is being built to allow for expansion to up to 1 million square feet if the needs of the recreational market require that, Keogh said.
At its full size, the facility should employ about 300 people, Keogh said.
Besides the greenhouse and processing kitchen, the facility will also have laboratories for research and development, Keogh said.
The AmeriCann project is one of three marijuana facilities underway locally.
CannaTech Medicinals is building a 50,000 square foot facility to grow and process marijuana on Innovation Way in the bio park. The company is also building a dispensary for medical marijuana on Hartwell Street near the intersection of Rodman Street. Those facilities are expected to be in use later this year.
Hope, Heal, Health is converting 50,000 square feet of space in the former Border City Mill on West Street. It will have a greenhouse processing facility as well as a dispensary. That is expected to open in the spring.