Medicinal cannabis offers new opportunities in science and technology
The Cann Group, an ASX-listed company, has announced that it will be constructing a $100 million stage 3 medicinal cannabis cultivation and manufacturing facility in Melbourne. This signals that medicinal cannabis has the potential to be a significant new scientific and technological industry in Australia.
Take up of medicinal cannabis is expected to increase
The Australian Government legalised the use of cannabis for medicinal purposes in 2016 by passing the Narcotic Drugs Amendment Act, however, production of products remains tightly controlled. Producers must be registered with the Therapeutic Goods Administration and the Office of Drug Control to cultivate cannabis, conduct clinical trials and develop products. Only 12 businesses have currently been registered although 75 businesses have applied to produce products to treat a range of medical issues from chronic pain management to acne. At the same time, only 30 doctors have applied to become Authorised Prescribers of medicinal cannabis, but this is expected to increase rapidly along with production and demand.
Medicinal cannabis is a significant new global industry
International competition is growing, with many countries expanding their production facilities.
The medicinal cannabis industry is estimated to be worth $55 billion globally by 2025. Given the size of the market, it’s no surprise that international competitors are growing. Canada already produces C$6.5 billion of medicinal cannabis and the Netherlands, Israel and Uruguay are expanding their production facilities. While the industry was growing in some states in the US it’s currently in a state of flux due to conflict with the Trump administration.
Within 3 years, Australians are expected to spend over $100 million on 8,000kg of product although the potential is much greater. For example, AusCann is currently researching a drug to treat chronic and neuropathic pain – in Australia that market alone is worth over $5 billion a year – and Botanix is developing products to treat acne – an industry worth $4.5 billion.
While Australian legislation currently only allows producers to produce enough product to meet local demand the Government has signalled that it will allow manufacturers to expand into export markets soon.
This heralds a new era for the scientific and technology community
The growth of medicinal cannabis provides new skills and employment opportunities.
The growth and production of medicinal cannabis is a boom for scientific and technology industries. New skills and increased employment opportunities encompass a wide range of areas – from agricultural technology to research and development to security and storage. Some Australian companies are already involved in research and development activities that extend beyond medicinal uses to animal feed, cosmetics and even beverages.
The Cann Group alone estimates that its new facility in Victoria will employ 170 staff. While other states including Tasmania, Queensland and Western Australia are also encouraging cultivation and production facilities to take advantage of the benefits of increased employment and production.
To make the most of this emerging industry, employers should partner with businesses who can help them identify and source people with the right skills to take their business forward.