The NSW and Commonwealth governments have been looking into expanding Australia’s medicinal cannabis industry, with a $6 million boost.
On Friday, NSW Minister for Agriculture Adam Marshall announced plans for a $10 million study into all aspects of the medicinal cannabis supply chain, such as growing conditions and medicinal compound analysis.
“Through this study, the NSW government will build on its ongoing research into the agronomic parameters for cannabis plants, and finding the ideal conditions for producing high quality, year-round, consistent medicinal cannabis products,” he said, supposedly from a “top-secret” research facility in regional NSW.
The project is a collaboration between the NSW and Commonwealth governments, Southern Cross University, Aglive and the University of Newcastle, and will be led by Cann Group Ltd — the first company to be issued a Cannabis Research License by the Australian government.
Marshall said the funding would allow the Department of Primary Industries to bring in more than triple the number of researchers working with the plants.
“It will also ensure our researchers have access to essential industry knowledge and insights, giving us the potential to drive this research much further and faster than would have otherwise been possible,” he said.
Cann Group Ltd CEO Peter Crock said the partnership would help Australia capitalise on its opportunity as a competitor in the global medicinal cannabis market.
NSW will contribute more than $3 million to the project, the Commonwealth will invest $3 million, and nearly $4 million will come from the other partners.
More than 11,000 patients have been approved to access the drug, with the majority approved this year, according to Health Minister Greg Hunt.
“Given the increase in prescribed medicinal cannabis, the government has supported the nation’s medicinal cannabis industry, and cut red tape, to help meet demand,” he said in a statement last week.
“The medicinal cannabis industry has the potential to make a significant contribution to exports, employment and economic growth, particularly in rural and regional areas.”
Victoria was the first state to legalise medicinal cannabis in 2016. Since then, the rest of Australia has gradually warmed up to the idea of using marijuana to treat patients, but actually obtaining it remains a difficult and expensive process.
Last month, the ACT became the first jurisdiction in Australia to legalise cannabis for personal use.