SOUTH Gippsland could soon be known for its extensive supply of legal, medicinal cannabis.
While construction is nearing completion on a cannabis processing plant in Wonthaggi, farmers are looking at growing the plant on the back of tightening farming conditions.
Although more highly regulated than traditional farming and far more difficult to enter the market – licence applications can cost up to $50,000 – the potential profits are lucrative.
Most of the medicinal cannabis on the market is sourced from overseas.
It’s hoped local production could reduce the cost – which, according to sources, can be more than $1000 a month for a prescription.
Last week in Inverloch, Israeli-based medicinal cannabis company Cann10, in partnership with the Gippsland Primary Health Network and Latrobe Health Assembly, presented to community members and medical professionals on the potential benefits of medicinal cannabis oil.
Forums were tailored to meet the communities need for understanding around medicinal cannabis and to debunk common myths.
Evening sessions were on offer to educate health professionals on the research and development in the industry and how it can benefit their patients.
Warren Everitt, managing director of MediPharm Labs Australia, is certain the local production of medicinal cannabis will have diverse positive impacts.
“Sourcing locally will mean products will be more affordable for those in need, farmers will experience benefits and we will see employment growth for workers,” the former Wonthaggi secondary student said.
“The biggest price barrier we face now is that all medicinal cannabis must be imported, reaching importation guidelines is a massive expense.
“We do have existing farms within South Gippsland who will supply us,” he said of some farmers considering applying for an application and growing medicinal cannabis.
“But there is room for more.”
As cost is a major barrier for many in need, local production could see prices fall by as much as 50 per cent, according to those familiar with the market.
Researchers are studying the potential benefits of medicinal cannabis on epilepsy, multiple sclerosis, nausea and vomiting due to chemotherapy or treatment for HIV/AIDs, different types of pain and palliative care.
The Althea group recently secured a 30-year lease in Skye, near Cranbourne, to build a cannabis cultivation and production facility.
The goal is to produce three tonnes of high grade dried medicinal cannabis flower each year, according to documents lodged with the ASX.
Cann10 say they’re the first education provider in the medicinal cannabis industry in Australia.
They have partnered with both Deakin University and Western Sydney University to deliver educational events with evidence-based knowledge to inform health professionals and community members on the use of medicinal cannabis to treat medical conditions.