Global drug and research giants are eyeing Victoria to grow cannabis crops on the back of federal laws allowing for medicinal marijuana products to be developed.
The companies hope to be granted licenses in the coming months and begin growing cannabis within a year.
The law changes, which come into effect tomorrow, allow for fit and proper applicants to cultivate and produce cannabis as medicine or for research.
It follows a move earlier this year in Victoria, where the law was also changed to allow for patients in exceptional circumstances to get access to locally produced medicinal marijuana as long as they are overseen by doctors.
A facility set up by the Andrews Government is already growing test crops prior to private company involvement, and children with severe epilepsy will be among the first able to access the new products from next year.
The combination of state and federal law changes have led to companies already developing products overseas contemplating a push into Australia.
Australian company MGC Pharmaceuticals, which already grows and manufactures medicinal cannabis overseas, will be applying for a license and is considering Victoria as a possible site.
MGC director Dr Ross Walker said the industry would create an enormous number of jobs.
Clearly we are looking at places like Victoria – where you grow wine is a great place to grow medical marijuana and the Andrews Government has done a lot for the growth of medical cannabis, Dr Walker said.
Its been estimated that worldwide, once it is established, the medicinal cannabis industry is worth about $150 billion, so there are huge opportunities in the horticultural side and also the manufacturing part of it.
What is important to understand here is that no body is talking about smoking cannabis – it will be in a capsule form, topical form and possible some kind of inhalation.
Dr Walker said early tests indicated potential benefits for a range of conditions including cancer pain, epilepsy and dementia.
Theres some very good preliminary work going but wee need to do more research, he said.
We are hopeful that we are granted a license by the federal government.
President of Canadian-based medical cannabis research company Tilray, Brendan Kennedy, told the Sunday Herald Sun it was likely there would be strong competition to enter the Australian market.
We are extremely interested. We have been following the developments in Australia closely, he said.
Obviously we are looking at Victoria, the first state to legalise medicinal cannabis.
Mr Kennedy said it was a complex and very expensive exercise to set up a new operational facility, given the legal sensitivities and differences between what can be produced in different countries.
I think there will be a very high failure rate in terms of business success (in Australia), he said.
News Moderator: Katelyn Baker
Full Article: Drug And Research Giants Are Eyeing Victoria To Grow Medicinal Cannabis Crops
Author: Matt Johnston
Contact: Herald Sun
Photo Credit: Brendan Smialowski
Website: Herald Sun