Australia, we’re getting our first major pot crops

Cann Group Australia was granted a permit in February

By Jon Hiltz for

The first company in Australia to receive a cannabis cultivation licence has been given the official go-ahead to start growing the country’s first major domestic crop.

MORE: Global interest grows in the Aussie cannabis market

Cann Group Australia was granted a permit by the Office of Drug Control in February to grow medical marijuana at an undisclosed location in Melbourne. The company has been on a high for a few months since being issued the official papers, as well as listing on the Australian Stock Exchange (ASX) earlier this month.

The ASX listing came after Cann Group successfully raised $13.5 million in capital. Much of that investment came from Canadian marijuana giant Aurora Cannabis which acquired a 19.9% stake in the burgeoning Australian cultivator.

The first Australian buds are expected to be ready this August to the benefit of Aussie patients. The permits allow this pioneering producer to breed plants for propagation, supply them for manufacturing into medical products, and conduct research to develop extracts.

Patients will be able to access the medicine by either getting involved in clinical trials or by obtaining it through prescription using Australia’s Therapeutic Goods Administration.

Cann Group is currently building a larger facility, also in Melbourne, which is expected to be finished by the end of this year.

Australia has quickly become a world-leader in medical marijuana research. The country legalised medical marijuana cultivation in October of 2016, greenlit the domestic sale of medical cannabis in February, and fast-tracked applications for 29 children with severe epilepsy to be the first to receive this life-changing medication last month.

Meanwhile, as the country marches forward with its robust medical cannabis plan, law enforcement is cracking down on their view of illegitimate medical marijuana use.

A deregistered physician named Andrew Katelaris – known in Australia as “Dr Pot” – has been arrested and charged with drug possession. The doctor has been giving patients in need, mainly children suffering from seizures, medical cannabis since long before it was legal in Australia. In 2005, Dr Katelaris lost his licence. He has continued his work despite mounting legal challenges.

Most recently, Katelaris has been treating Chase Walker-Steven, a child with debilitating seizures who is at the centre of a very high-profile case in Australia. Walker-Steven was taken from his parents last week after they refused traditional medication at the hospital for their son’s severe cerebral palsy, citing that medical marijuana was the only substance that has worked to treat his symptoms.

Katelaris has admitted to administering cannabis treatment to more than 50 children suffering from seizure-related conditions.

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