Australian cannabis companies are standing out as making a cautious yet steady entry into the cannabis industry. One of these companies is ECS Botanics. “ECS Botanics started as a hemp company,” says Alex Keach, founder, and Managing Director of ECS Botanics. “We have a farm in Tasmania where we grow our cannabis outdoors.”
The idea of setting up a cannabis farm in Tasmania came to Alex when he was working on the island. “The majority of the world poppy supply comes from Tasmania,” he explains. “At its peak around 30,000 hectares of poppy crops were grown on the island. So, when I started thinking about that, it struck me that such rich agricultural land wasn’t being used for growing cannabis. Rather, you see a lot of growers going indoors. Not only that, as the exterior of these indoor farms looks as if it was a jail or something. This thing literally blew me away, as I grew up with poppy fields all around me. So, why not cannabis?” That’s how ECS Botanics was born.
The rich land of Tasmania
“Tasmania is one of the best places for agriculture,” Alex Keach says. “It has a great summer period with the perfect photoperiod, abundance of water, and so on. On top of that, plenty of highly skilled workforce that knows how to grow medicinal crops are available. So, with that mentality, I wanted to do large-scale CBD production. We started with hemp food, which got into major supermarkets. Then, I applied for a medical license, and dedicated part of our farm to medical production.”
The Tasmania farm of ECS Botanics operates under GACP principles, and cannabis is grown in berry tunnels and in the field. On top of that, ECS Botanics has recently acquired Murray Meds, an Australia-based medical cannabis grower. “We have moved very quickly, we have expanded our mentality and saw an opportunity in the THC space of the cannabis industry too, and Murray Meds is the perfect partner for that.” Alex indeed further explains that the values of Murray Meds and ECS Botanics naturally overlap. “They are the only people in the Australian cannabis sector that practice the same values as we do. When we met, it just worked.” Murray Meds carries out regenerative and organic agriculture, a mentality shared by ECS Botanics. “Our two sites operate in a very complementary way. Our focus is lowering the cost of production and hence for the end-customer. We can produce GACP in Tasmania, and send it up for GMP processing at Murray Meds. By doing this, we are creating a local market so that people switch from the Canadian import.”
A domestic supply of medical cannabis
Local supply is particularly important for the Australian market. “The Australian market is very underrated at the moment,” Alex remarks. “But the patient count is growing on a daily basis. And thanks to companies like us, medical cannabis is easier to access, and this can only improve. I think the industry is in really good shape, but we are just at the beginning of the growth trajectory.” Australia is not the only target of ECS Botanics and Murray Meds, however. “I have an agricultural and finance background, and Nan-Maree of Murray Meds has management a pharma background. Plus, considering that our standards very much align with EU-GMP, Europe represents an important market for us. In the future, Europe will be our avenue to sell the majority of our products. To prepare for that, we have plans to further expand our cultivation. We are in a really good spot right now. It has been tough with all the lockdowns over the previous months, yet it’s funny to see what you can achieve even in lockdowns. Australia’s time to shine is coming, so better prepare your sunglasses.”