Cannabis leaves of a plant on a dark background
Cannabis leaves of a plant on a dark background Yarygin

Southern Downs may welcome top-secret marijuana farm

MEDICAL marijuana will be grown in a top-secret southern Queensland location, with the Southern Downs reportedly a place of interest.

The move comes after production company Cannatrek received planning approval from the Office of Drug Control.

Mayor Tracy Dobie would not confirm whether the Southern Downs Regional Council had been approached by Cannatrek, but said the burgeoning industry provided a fantastic opportunity for the region.

"The Southern Downs would welcome investment from developers and organisations looking to further their own business and contribute to the economy of the Southern Downs," she said

"Council has a very positive approach to any organisation that wants to invest in the region."

According to a recent industry report, Australia has the fastest growing medicinal cannabis market in the world, with the potential to reach highs of $8.8 billion per annum within the next decade.

"These developments are wonderful for our economy," Cr Dobie said.

At a larger facility in regional Victoria, Cannatrek employs more than 400 workers and contributes millions of dollars to the local economy.

Cannatrek's 3200sqm Queensland facility would be encased within several blacked-out, climate controlled greenhouses and guarded closely by security.

In an interview with the ABC, Cannatrek director of Research and Compliance, Emily Rigby, said it was basically a prison "for obvious reasons".

More than five tonnes of medical marijuana is expected to be produced on the site each year, thanks to a fast 12-week turnaround and tightly controlled conditions that allow for continuous crop production.

Plant genetics have been imported from overseas and within the country, with a number of strains to be provided, depending on the outcome of clinical trials.

Once harvested, the marijuana will be trucked off-site for extraction and packaging, where it will be turned into oil, capsules and dried flower product for vaporisation.

Australian medical officials have endorsed the use of marijuana for the management of pain and nausea and the cannabidiol compound is used to treat seizures, inflammation, migraines, depression, psychosis and mental disorders.

According to a report by the Therapeutic Goods Administration, every day about seven Australians are prescribed medical marijuana products, with more than 1000 patients approved for use so far.

As the industry expands, Cr Dobie said the Southern Downs council would consider every development application based on its merits.

"We already have some very good businesses invested in the region and I think there's great opportunities there," she said.