A Southern Queensland medicinal cannabis company has doubled its workforce to keep up with demand in Australia and overseas.
Cannatrek started producing commercial medicinal cannabis from its facility near Toowoomba in October last year.
“We’re seeing doctors increasing their confidence in prescribing medical cannabis and we believe there’s up to, and possibly exceeding, a million eligible patients in Australia,” said director of research and compliance at Cannatrek, Emily Rigby.
“And it’s really important that we enable those patients to have easy access to affordable, quality medicine to move a lot of these patients, who are actually accessing cannabis medicines, from the black market.”
The Toowoomba facility is now in full commercial production, turning over more than 3 tonnes a year.
A second facility in regional Victoria is planned, which will produce up to 160t annually.
The quality of Australian cannabis has caught the international market’s attention.
“So, we’re able to take advantage of that to produce high-quality dried cannabis flower.
“First and foremost, we want to supply the Australian market, but then we also have plans to supply the European market as well as the Asia-Pacific region.”
Change in legislation
The Australian Senate has passed new legislation that will help simplify export approvals in the industry, but Cannatrek says there is still a significant regulatory burden in Australia.
“Obviously, it’s a heavily regulated industry and unfortunately drug control is under-resourced to handle the expansion,” Ms Rigby said.
A referendum on the recreational use of cannabis in New Zealand, set for September, could lead to more growth.
“In Australia and New Zealand we share a lot of things in common, so it will be interesting to see how that affects Australia,” Ms Rigby said.
Another medicinal cannabis company, Asterion Cannabis, plans to build a farm near Toowoomba with four 10-hectare greenhouses, producing 500t of cannabis flower for pharmaceuticals annually.
There is currently no subsidy for cannabis products under the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS).
Doctors wishing to prescribe the drug must first apply to the Therapeutic Goods Administration to seek individual patient approval, a time-consuming process that provides further motivation for patients to access cannabis products via illegitimate routes.