Northern Rivers becomes medicinal cannabis powerhouse
FOUR medicinal cannabis farms have been touted for the Northern Rivers - in Binna Burra, Casino, Ballina and most recently, Lismore - begging us to asked the question, is the region becoming the world's biggest powerhouse for medicinal cannabis?
With licences still to be approved for Binna Burra, Casino and Ballina, their construction dates remain a mystery.
Meanwhile, Lismore City Council has pipped them at the post, and will now house not only the Northern Rivers' first licensed medicinal cannabis facility, but one of only a handful in Australia.
The Northern Star takes at where the four big projects are at.
A MASSIVE medicinal cannabis facility will begin operating in the Lismore region next year, bringing with it "much-needed economic activity and jobs".
Up to 100 new jobs will be created at the multi-million dollar "modern medicinal cannabis cultivation and research facility", construction of which is well under way.
The council has worked with Australian company CannaPacific over the past 12 months to bring the project to fruition.
CannaPacific operations manager Tim Ritchie said construction of stage one of the facility was nearing completion and it was expected the company would start cultivating medicinal cannabis by mid next year.
Stage one includes a 10,000sqmhigh-tech glasshouse with fully-automated climate control to allow year-round production.
It is estimated about 10,000kg of quality cannabis flower will be cultivated annually.
The facility will also serve as an advanced Cannabis Plant Research and Development Unit.
A development application for a "state-of-the-art" $6.5million medical cannabis farm at Binna Burra, near Bangalow has been given the green tick by the council.
The DA was approved by Byron Shire Council earlier this month for four greenhouses and a processing facility on a 3400sq m site lodged by Elixinol Global Limited.
The application states there is estimated employment opportunities for up to 25 staff.
The existing three poultry sheds will be demolished.
The facility will grow, cultivate, process and produce medical cannabis at its Friday Hut Rd site.
While the facility will be the first in Byron Shire it joins a rapidly growing industry across Australia.
A medicinal cannabis facility was pitched to Casino in 2017, but despite some setbacks the project is still in the picture for Richmond Valley Council and Australian-owned SANA Nutraceuticals.
A spokeswoman for Richmond Valley Council said Sana Nutraceuticals is waiting upon the Federal Government's Office of Drug Control to determine its application for a licence to establish a medicinal cannabis business on the Northern Rivers.
"Council continues to provide all support it can so this project can proceed given the economic benefits it will provide," the spokeswoman said.
"There is no clear indication of timing on the determination of this application."
The idea for the project was initially established by Agraflora Organics International (formerly PUF Ventures Inc), but SANA Founder and CEO Michael Horsfall said following an amicable split from the Canadian companies SANA was ready to move forward with its project.
Touted as the "largest medical cannabis facility in the southern hemisphere", at full scale it will have 11ha under greenhouse conditions with the capacity to support annual production of more than 100,000kg of high-quality cannabis.
This will potentially equate to annual revenue between $800million and $1.1billion.
Mr Horsfall said SANA expected to create at least 300 direct and indirect jobs in the Northern Rivers region from its medicinal cannabis greenhouse project.
He said this would provide a significant boost to the local economy, provide education, training and additional pathways and opportunities for people and other businesses in the region.
Mr Horsfall said the company was currently in the assessment stage for three licenses with the Federal Government's Office of Drug Control in Canberra.
Australian company THC Global's plan to grow medicinal cannabis in the Ballina Shire has received a Cannabis Manufacture Licence from the Office of Drug Control.
The licence means THC Global will be able to cultivate its own proprietary strains, process cannabis plant material, and manufacture extracts and tinctures of both plant and resin.
THC Global and its wholly-owned subsidiaries now have all three cannabis production licences required to deliver Australian-grown and manufactured medicinal cannabis products globally.
The medicinal cannabis company is planning to build a 30,000sq m production and manufacturing site in the Ballina Shire.
A series of greenhouses would be built to produce more than 50,000kg of medicinal cannabis annually in the first stage of production.
THC Global is hoping to receive the initial licensing this year to start work on the Ballina Shire site before the end of 2019.
They have not lodged a development application with Ballina Shire Council.
THC Global is already conducting medicinal cannabis cultivation activities at its Strain R&D and Manufacturing Facility in Bundaberg, Queensland.