An Australian council has approved plans for a sprawling medicinal cannabis facility that will have an annual capacity of 160,000 kg.
Cannatrek, a non-listed public company, has pledged to spend AU$160 million ($109 million) on building the facility in Shepparton, northern Victoria. The firm has purchased a 178-acre plot of land in the area and it plans to build a 1.7 million sq. ft. greenhouse there.
“We believe that the region will become a major centre for the production of medicinal cannabis,” said Cannatrek chief executive Tommy Huppert.
It has now received all necessary planning permissions for the facility and it can commence construction. The project is expected to be completed before the end of 2020, and Huppert said it would bring 400 jobs to the region.
The aim is to supply the domestic market and to become a major player in exports.
It is a boost for the region and the council is excited, but no mention was made of CannTrust’s role in proceedings. In October 2018, CannTrust Holdings Inc. (TSX: TRST) spent AU$6.4 million purchasing a 19.8% stake in Cannatrek.
Cannatrek is among the first Australian vertically integrated companies to be awarded a cannabis research, cultivation, manufacturing, sales and import license by federal and state governments, and CannTrust said it was excited to expand its reach into the Asia-Pacific region.
Since then, things have gone decidedly pear-shaped for CannTrust. Health Canada discovered unlicensed cultivation in five rooms of its facility in Pelham, so it placed a hold on 5,000 kg of its stock.
CannTrust was forced to fire its chief executive, while its board chairman resigned over the scandal. This week, Ontario Cannabis Store returned $2.9 million worth of its products after deciding they were non-compliant, while distributors in Denmark and Alberta have quarantined its cannabis.
Cannatrek is simply knuckling down and pursuing ongoing projects while its minority shareholder attempts to get its house in order.