Medicinal cannabis company Cannatrek Ltd today announced that it had received Major Project Status from the Federal Government for its $160 million production facility in the Victorian regional city of Shepparton. Building of the site will commence in 2020, with production of medicinal cannabis to begin in 2021.
Cannatrek CEO Tommy Huppert recently received a letter from Karen Andrews, Minster for Industry Science and Technology, informing the company of the recognition.
He described the letter, and its contents, as an ‘export booster’ for both the project and the medicinal cannabis industry.
Major Project Status is the Australian Government’s recognition of the national significance of a project – for economic growth, employment or for regional Australia. Projects that receive Major Project Status receive extra support from the Government’s Major Projects Facilitation Agency (MPFA), including help with coordination and facilitation of Commonwealth Government approvals.
Cannatrek’s Shepparton project will create more than 400 jobs a year for the Greater Shepparton area and beyond. The facility, which will be built in phases on 178 acres of land owned by Cannatrek, will include a 160,000m2 growing area under a giant high-technology glasshouse. When operating at full production, the company aims to produce 160 tonnes of medicinal cannabis per year, which will make it one of the world’s largest such facilities.
Mr Huppert said: ‘Getting Major Project Status represents a significant step for Cannatrek and it will mitigate a lot of the regulatory and financial risk that projects in Australia can face. We are delighted that the Federal Government has recognized the importance of our Shepparton project. This recognition represents a large part of our strategy to market. It is up to us now to deliver what the government expects of us.’
Mr Huppert said that he was confident Cannatrek will be a major low-cost producer of medicinal cannabis for Australian patients, as well as for world markets. ‘Our aim is to cultivate, process and manufacture affordable medicinal cannabis as a clean, green, therapeutic product of choice for hundreds of thousands of patients in Australia and overseas.’
Local Federal MP Damian Drum said Cannatrek’s project will boost jobs and provide enormous economic benefits to the local community. ‘This project has the potential to be a game-changer for our region. Our region is an ideal fit for a project like this thanks to our first-class agriculture sector and capacity to manufacture. This is going to create jobs both in the construction phase and ongoing.’
Up to 500,000 Australians buy cannabis on the black market each year in order to self-medicate. Trials of legal, medicinal cannabis are currently underway in Australia with nearly all medicinal cannabis being imported, making it expensive. As more countries legalise medicinal cannabis, Cannatrek will pursue multiple export markets.
Mr Huppert said Cannatrek chose the Shepparton region because of its abundant water, long hours of sunlight and passionate people with significant skills in agri-technology. ‘We believe that the region will become a major centre for the production of medicinal cannabis. We are delighted that the local council is so enthusiastic about our project.’
Cannatrek’s Queensland production facility is fully operational, with its initial plants close to harvest. It will produce 3 to 5 tonnes of medicinal cannabis a year from its Queensland facility.