The town of Casino in New South Wales, Australia could become the site of a huge greenhouse for growing medical cannabis.
Richmond Valley Council says it welcomes a proposal submitted by Canadian company PUF Ventures Inc to construct the 9.3ha greenhouse facility, which could be the largest medical cannabis cultivation operation in the southern hemisphere.
When running at full capacity, the venture will support the production of 100,000 kilograms of high-quality cannabis each year, with a value of between $800 million and $1.1 billion.
“This is an amazing opportunity for Casino and the Richmond Valley, which already has the natural advantage in agriculture,” said Richmond Valley Mayor Robert Mustow.
Council’s General Manager Vaughan Macdonald called the project a “game changer” for the region as it could create around 300 direct new jobs and make a major contribution towards Council’s goal of reducing unemployment and improving the prosperity of the community.
PUF Ventures says Australia is at the same stage Canada was four years ago.
“While the cannabis market is in its infancy in Australia, we are confident the Richmond Valley project will make a significant difference to a local economy,” said PUF Ventures Australia CEO Michael Horsfall.
“Our core strategies align with that of government and this will enable us to access a range of local support and initiatives from both Federal and State governments now and into the future.”
PUF Ventures has already agreed to a purchase option agreement with Richmond Valley Council for a 27-hectare parcel of land. Under the terms of the agreement, the land will be provided for 5 years at no cost, with an option for PVA to purchase the parcel on favorable terms after the final year.
Federal Government approvals are required for the project to proceed, but Richmond Valley Council says it would be “doing all it could to make sure it got across the line”. PUF is no stranger to red tape, stating Australia’s cannabis cultivation application protocols are similar to the Health Canada ACMPR process; a process it is currently working through in that country.
PUF says the cannabis market in Australia could grow to $9 billion over the next 7 years – however, it bases that figure on recreational cannabis also being legalised in the country. The chances of that happening any time in the near future are pretty much non-existent.