3 More Australian Medical Cannabis Ventures Gain Major Project Status

Major project status for Australian medical cannabis
Image: Jhon David

Special status awarded to three more medicinal cannabis projects in Australia by the Morrison Government will help expedite progress on the ventures.

The granting of Major Project Status means certain approvals are streamlined – but it doesn’t mean a free pass; there are still hoops to jump through and hurdles to clear. The status acknowledges the strategic significance of a project to Australia and offers companies extra support from the Major Projects Facilitation Agency.

Yesterday morning Australia’s Minister for Industry, Science and Technology Karen Andrews said the three facilities in two states will generate thousands of jobs.

The projects:

  • LeafCann: cultivation and production facility in Adelaide’s southern suburbs. Expected to generate more than 1400 jobs, plus 850 during development. The facility is part of a $350 million investment by the company.
  • PhytoGro: $140 million cultivation and medical device manufacturing facility in Melbourne’s inner west  – around 300 new jobs when at full capacity.
  • Cannatrek: $160 million cultivation and manufacturing facility in Victoria’s Goulburn Valley –  400 full time positions at full capacity.

“When you combine our world-renowned agriculture sector, with our trusted reputation for medical products, Australia is in a unique position to dominate the global medicinal cannabis industry,” said Minister Andrews.

Other medical cannabis projects to previously gain Major Project Status include Asterion Australia Pty Ltd’s Toowoomba venture, Hydroganics’ $333 million facility in South- East Queensland and Canopy Growth’s $70 million project in regional Victoria.

In August last year, Australia’s Minister for Health Greg Hunt announced the Federal Government was to prioritise medical cannabis projects granted Major Project Status, meaning these projects would be able to jump the queue at the Office of Drug Control (ODC) for licensing application review from the beginning of September 2019.

The Morrison Government has been eager to be seen to support Australia’s medical cannabis industry. Minister Andrews has previously commented that by fast-tracking these facilities, the nation has an opportunity for tremendous export potential.

But perhaps many patients in Australia unable to access medicines would prefer a stronger focus on local issues. There is an Australian Senate inquiry into current patient access barriers currently under way, the reporting date for which is 26 February, 2020. However, the inquiry is being led by Greens leader Dr. Richard Di Natale, who announced yesterday he would resign as Greens leader and plans to quit federal politics. What impact that will have on his role in the inquiry, if any, isn’t clear.