Australia’s Morrison Government has granted Major Project Status to medical cannabis ventures in the states of Victoria and Queensland.
The status has been awarded to Hydroganics for a $333 million facility in South- East Queensland and Canopy Growth for a $70 million project in regional Victoria.
Once at full production, the Hydroganics facility at a secret location on the Sunshine Coast is expected to produce annual revenue of $366 million, with 90 per cent of that figure from overseas exports. The facility is expected to support 140 ongoing jobs.
As for Canopy Growth, it is establishing its Asia Pacific headquarters and a vertically integrated medical cannabis cultivation, manufacturing and distribution center in Pakenham, which is expected to create up to 250 ongoing jobs.
Last year, Canada-headquartered Canopy Growth launched Spectrum Therapeutics in Australia, which was set up to establish the facility in partnership with Victoria’s State Government. Obviously something has changed as at that stage Canopy Growth said it would be investing $16 million – it’s a big jump from that figure to $70 million.
The Victorian Government aims to have the state supplying half of Australia’s medicinal cannabis by 2028.
At a federal level, the Morrison Government has been keen to be seen to support the medical cannabis industry.
“Australia’s trusted reputation for medical products combined with our top quality agriculture sector will propel this new domestic industry into the global market,” said Minister for Industry, Science and Technology Karen Andrews. “By acting now and fast-tracking medicinal cannabis facilities, we have an opportunity to create an entirely new industry with tremendous export potential.”
In August this year, Federal Minister for Health Greg Hunt said the Morrison Government will prioritise medical cannabis projects granted Major Project Status. The benefits of being awarded the status include priority consideration for the necessary licences through the Office of Drug Control (ODC).
Major Project Status recognises the national significance of a project for economic growth, employment or for regional Australia. Among the criteria for consideration is projects must involve capital investment of over $50 million.
While all this is exciting stuff, the elephant in the room remains the current availability, accessibility and cost of medical cannabis products for Australian patients, a situation to be investigated through a recently announced Senate inquiry.