by Britt Chester | @awfullybrittish

R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Company announced Monday morning that it will begin breaking ground on what will likely become the largest, outdoor marijuana grow operation in the United States.

“We are very excited to begin cultivation of marijuana,” said Claudio Heronos, director of small business acquisitions for the tobacco company. “It’s been a long time coming, and having seen how profitable and positive the results have been in states like Colorado, California and Oregon, it only makes sense that we, R.J. Reynolds, would want to break into an industry so reliant on smoking something.”

Heronos said that when he stepped in as director of small business acquisitions, he was unsure as to whether or not the second largest tobacco company in the United States would be open to expanding into marijuana culture.

“As it turns out, almost all of our top executives smoke marijuana, and many of them are strong proponents for legalization,” he said. Heronos added that although he himself does not partake in smoking, the edibles that can be created from extracting the THC from the harmless plant have helped him deal with the stresses of working for a company that has received so much back lash from the health-conscious community.

“R.J. Reynolds knows that marijuana has cancer healing qualities, and we’ve worked tirelessly to make sure that since we are the cause of such a scourge, we also want to be the solution. And why not try to make money off it?” Heronos asked.

Local tobacco farmer Clarence T. Judkins, who just sold 900 acres of farmland to R.J. Reynolds, is excited about the change coming to the area.

“I’ve been farming tobacco for many years, and when Reynolds approached me about using my land for something positive, and paying me an appropriate wage for the land-use, well, I just couldn’t say no.

Judkins’ property has been on the radar for R.J. Reynolds ever since infrared cameras revealed a small grow operation on the land.

“Clarence has been real easy to work with, mainly because we tricked him into thinking we were paying top dollar for his property when we were really just ripping him off,” Heronos laughed. “But you know what they say, you can’t make money if you don’t first destroy the people who were happily living before you arrived.”

With multi-million dollar housing developments beginning to takeover the sandwiched town of Kernersville, the rising interest in marijuana cultivation has caught the attention of businesses both large and small.

For Judkins, whose family has been surviving off of farming for more than 100 years, appropriating his land for marijuana cultivation isn’t as easy as just planting a seed.

Or is it? “It’s a weed that wants to grow,” said Steve Holdair, a 31-year-old resident of Colfax who has been partaking in the plant ever since he discovered its benefits for studying for tests while attending East High School.

“My motto was ‘study high, test high, score high,’ and it worked really well for me,” he said. Holdair just recently accepted a position as a pilot for Germanwings and will be relocating to Germany as soon as his visa is approved.

“It’s not like everyone doesn’t know that it could save our local economy,” Holdair said. “You can root out the low-level drug dealers by selling a better product at a better price, and you can take out the cartels by creating a supply and demand system that relies solely on the local flower.”

Heronos echoed these sentiments when he explained just how much money his children have spent on marijuana while attending the University of Colorado. Although he doesn’t necessarily agree with the ‘study high, test high, score high,’ mentality, he does think that his children have been able to handle the stress of college classes and weekend trips to the mountains better because of the marijuana.

“I don’t, and neither does R.J. Reynolds, support anyone under the age of 18 smoking anything. You need to be a responsible age to make decisions for yourself before you should be able to purchase things that help you become a better person,” he said. He quickly added that cigarettes don’t make you a better person, “but the cool factor goes up just a little bit when you light up outside of a bar.”

As far as Judkins’ family farm goes, it’s all about turning the soil to turn a profit.

“We’ve been farming tobacco here for many generations, and I love the idea of growing something that helps people,” Judkins said.

The land that R.J. Reynolds will break ground on in May sits directly between a new development of mansions and trailers that have been sitting on the property for as many years as anyone in the area could remember. Although R.J. Reynolds did not actually purchase land and is not going to be growing marijuana in Kernersville, hopes are “high” for area residents. !