The Australian government has fast-tracked an AU$333 million (US$227 million) cannabis facility in Queensland for it to be operational by 2023.
The firm building the site is called Hydroganics and it has promised to boost the local economy by creating 140 jobs. It estimates that annual turnover will be AU$336 million (US$229 million) and 90% of this will come from exporting medical cannabis products around the world.
The federal government has assigned Major Project Status to the development. This is designed to strip out layers of red tape that make the licensing process onerous and ensure major projects get underway as quickly as possible.
Any cannabis production projects that can create jobs, improve export prospects or develop the country’s marijuana are eligible for the status.
“This is exactly what Major Project Status is designed for,” said Karen Andrews, Minister for Industry, Science and Technology. “By fast-tracking nationally significant projects, we can boost our economic growth and create new jobs, including in regional areas.”
Andrews said that Australia has a reputation for medical products and a high-quality agricultural sector, leaving it well placed to become a major player in the global cannabis trade. She estimates that cannabis will be an AU$1.2 billion industry for the country within 10 years.
The government has also awarded Canopy Growth Corp. (TSE: WEED) Major Project Status for an AU$70 million facility in Victoria. It will become Canopy’s Asia Pacific hub, following a vertically integrated cultivation, manufacturing, and distribution model.
Canopy said it will be able to employ up to 250 people at this site in Victoria. The granting of Major Project Status highlights the national significance of these initiatives, their contribution to economic growth, employment and to boosting opportunities for regional Australia.
Last month, the Australian federal government announced it is investing AU$3 million (US$2.04 million) into researching the benefits of medical cannabis use for pain relief among cancer patients. More than 11,000 people have joined its medical marijuana program since it was inaugurated in 2016, but the government wants a more robust evidence base.
The domestic market should continue to grow in the years ahead, but Australia sees “tremendous” potential for exports.