Cannabis to become a major crop in the heart of Australia’s food bowl

By Jonathan Jackson. Published at Aug 30, 2019, in The 420 Report

Cannatrek Ltd recently revealed it had received planning permission from the Greater Shepparton City Council to build a $160 million medicinal cannabis production facility.

Cannatrek is part of the CANNATREK Group, which is deploying an end-to-end industry blueprint, to provide a streamlined progression into the cannabis agri-tech industry, which reduces growth risk, maximises market share and targets high value-added wellness & medicinal cannabis products.

The facility, just outside of Shepparton, Victoria will be one of the world’s largest medicinal cannabis facilities and Cannatrek is already making its mark globally, having partnered with Canada's TSE listed $334.6 million capped Canntrust:

While its primary function will be to provide medical cannabis to the broader community, it will also help to further boost Shepparton’s economy.

Greater Shepparton sits at the heart of the ‘food bowl of Australia’ and is responsible for producing high quality fruit, vegetables and agricultural goods. Essentially, it has the ideal climate and environment for food production, which should translate to non-food crops.

The region’s agricultural strength is a key reason for Cannatrek’s presence there. It is water abundant, enjoys long hours of sunlight and has a population with significant skills in agri-technology:

“We believe that the region will become a major centre for the production of medicinal cannabis. We are delighted that the local council is so enthusiastic about our project,” said Tommy Huppert, CEO of Cannatrek.

“We will be a major employer and there will be significant and positive knock-on effects in the region. We are now preparing the development to build a scalable project and we have received planning permission for the entire project.”

Construction of the facility and the facility itself is expected to create more than 400 jobs a year for the Greater Shepparton area and beyond.

The facility will be built on 178 acres of land purchased by Cannatrek and will include a 160,000m2 growing area under a giant high-technology glasshouse. When operating at full production, Canntrek aims to produce 160 tonnes of medicinal cannabis per year.

“Getting local planning approval has been a huge step for us; with the development assistance that we are getting from the Victorian Government, we are confident that we can be a major low-cost producer of medicinal cannabis for Australian patients, as well as for world markets,” Huppert said.

“Our aim is to cultivate, process and manufacture affordable medicinal cannabis as a clean, green, therapeutic product of choice for hundreds of thousands of patients in Australia and overseas.”

Looking after people’s health

Cannatrek estimates that 300,000 to 500,000 Australians buy cannabis on the black market each year in order to self-medicate. There are several reasons for this, not least that medical cannabis trials are ongoing and important cannabis is expensive and therefore out of reach for some who need it.

Australia is moving forward. It is a slow process, but progress is being made.

As of July 2019, authorities in Australia have granted approximately 11,500 approvals, under the Special Access Scheme, for the legal use of medicinal cannabis, with almost 10,500 of those authorisations being approved in the last 12 months alone. The billion-dollar Australian medicinal cannabis industry is forecasting significant growth to an estimated 20,000+ approvals by the end of 2019.

Cannatrek holds eight licences to commercialise a seed-to-patient business in Australia. It has completed commissioning of its Queensland site, near Brisbane, for full R&D and commercial production to begin shortly, making it a first mover, at scale, in the Australian industry.

It has also moved to define itself as a healthcare specialist, having launched Cannahealth, a free medicinal cannabis advisory service founded to deal with the large volume of enquiries from medical professionals and the general public, regarding medicinal cannabis in Australia.

It is no secret that patient access to information is scarce and average doctor education is still evolving, with some doctors still sceptical.

Cannahealth’s intention is to empower patients with current and peer-reviewed information to share with their physician and help navigate the challenging Special Access Scheme administered by the Therapeutic Goods Administration.

Cannahealth also provides patients with a free “find a doctor” service by which patients can find a medicinal cannabis specialist in their area to provide them informed medical advice and treatment options. The company can assist patients by connecting them with Telehealth clinics that can provide them with medical advice and services ensuring that medicinal cannabis can be accessed by patients across 87% of continental Australia.

Cannahealth will also provide doctors with information about the legislative framework surrounding medicinal cannabis in Australia as well as facilitating RACPG certified courses to increase the knowledge base of physicians to increase the level of care their patients receive.

As the industry grows, Cannahealth expects to take a leading position in market education. In the meantime, via Cannatek, it will look to expand its footprint as a high-valued medical cannabis exporter.

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