Planting the seeds for a new $160 million facility

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Budding industry set to bloom

Shepparton looks set to get a whole lot greener, with medicinal cannabis company, Cannatrek announcing that it has received planning permission from the Greater Shepparton City Council to build Australia’s biggest cannabis production facility in the region.

When completed, the $160 million facility will be one of the world’s largest medicinal cannabis facilities, creating more than 400 jobs annually for the Greater Shepparton area and beyond.

The undisclosed, 72ha site will include a 160,000m2 high technology glasshouse growing area, as well as research and breeding facilities.

Thanks to the Goulburn Valley’s abundant hours of sun and access to water, the region is ideal for growing the cannabis sativa plant. With the right amounts of sun and water, the cannabis sativa plant, which is technically a weed, has a full life cycle of only eight to twelve weeks. As a result, Cannatrek will produce a whopping 160 tonnes of medicinal cannabis annually when operating at capacity, affording the ability to export into other markets.

As of July 2019, Australian authorities, under the Special Access Scheme (SAS), have granted approximately 11,500 approvals for the use of medicinal cannabis. The SAS refers to arrangements that provide for the import and/or supply of unapproved therapeutic goods for a single patient, on a case-by-case basis. The billion-dollar Australian medicinal cannabis industry is forecasting an estimated 20,000+ approvals by the end of 2020.

For thousands of years, cannabis has been used for medicinal purposes. Recently, advancements in technology and legislative change have seen governments around the world loosening and amending laws to embrace this medical resource.

Cannatrek is one of only a handful of businesses at the forefront of this change in Australia and one of the first companies to be entrusted by government to import cannabis seed, research strains, cultivate, process, distribute, market and export cannabis to international markets.

Cannatrek CEO, Tommy Huppert said he was excited to be finally revealing the news to the region, after securing the land over a year ago.

“I’ve been working in the space for five or six years and it’s been tricky flying under the radar. The whole industry is a blank canvas and it feels like I’ve been on eggshells,” Mr Huppert said.

“But I’m just so thrilled to be having this conversation at last and I’m thankful to get support from three levels of government. Greater Shepparton City Council have been so great and it just goes to show how business and council can work together to do something great for the region.”

Mr Huppert said Cannatrek will not only focus on production and distribution of medicinal marijuana but there will also be a dedicated team for research into its medical use, as well as a breeding and genetics program.

“People don’t realise but there are over 100 different strains of the sativa plant and all of them do different things. At Cannatrek, our focus will be on mental health and strains that will help with depression, anxiety, insomnia and pain relief.

“So far, Australia has done quite well in allowing universities, scientists and the medical fraternity to join together and conduct research. We hope that further research will provide authenticity to doctors and patients unsure of the benefits of a plant that’s been prohibited here for over 70 years.”

Construction on the Cannatrek medicinal cannabis facility is set to commence in its undisclosed location soon and is expected to be completed before the end of 2020.