EXCLUSIVE: First medicinal cannabis plantation set to open
A 20,000kg per annum medicinal cannabis facility, featuring a huge glasshouse, will begin operating in the Lismore region within weeks, bringing with it much needed jobs.
Australian biotechnology company CannaPacific's new production facility includes a 10,000 sqm Dutch glasshouse and high-security outdoor cultivation area, capable of producing over 20,000kg of premium cannabis flower per annum.
The company develops new cannabinoid-based medicines and received a licence by the Australian Federal Government to cultivate and research medicinal cannabis products via its 18ha Northern Rivers site.
The greenhouse and production areas will produce dried flower to full GACP (Good Agricultural and Collection Practices) & GMP (Good Manufacturing Practices) standards.
This means that Lismore will now house not only the Northern NSW' first licensed medicinal cannabis facility, but one of only a handful in Australia.
General manager, Joshua Dennis, said the operation is already offering more than jobs for locals in a number of different skill sets.
"We have indirectly created employment for around 20 people so far, injecting $1M into local economy," he said.
"Directly, we have already offered employment to 10 people on the Northern Rivers, and we will be scaling it up towards our facilities going online closer to the end of the year."
Mr Dennis, who grew up on the Northern Rivers, said the first product grown here will be then taken interstate to be turned into medicinal cannabis oil and other sub-products.
"The final product grown here will be used domestically and also part of it will be exported, as the domestic and overseas markets love the idea of a plant grown in a clean and green environment such as the Northern Rivers," he said.
The company's goal is to combine advanced molecular breeding technology with a traditional approach to drug development, with an focus on such palliative care and post-traumatic stress disorder.
In the meantime, the company has produced its first batch of medicinal cannabis oil sourced from other local growers, and it's just started exporting the product to South Africa.
Pharmacist Paul Mavor, the first licensed importer of Canadian medicinal cannabis, said the shipment was the first export of Australian cannabis to Africa.
"It is a really significant step in cementing Australia's place as a global supplier of pharmaceutical-grade medicinal cannabis. Projections are for Australian medical patients to hit 300,000 over the next few years, and the export market offers huge potential," he said.