Hemp food company and agribusiness ECS Botanics has been granted a licence to cultivate medicinal cannabis at a facility in the Northern Midlands.
It was last level of approval required from the Office of Drug Control for the ASX-listed company to finalise planning for the proposal facility.
The company also received a licence to manufacture medicinal cannabis in November.
The two licences are valid for 12 months, but the company expects to extend them beyond the initial term. They also include a narcotic import and export licence.
ECS Botanics managing director Alex Keach said it was pleasing for the company to reach the next stage of development.
“Our goal is to produce the highest quality medicinal cannabis for the growing Australian Patient Access scheme and export market,” he said.
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“This sets us up increasingly well for 2020. We look forward to updating the market on our medicinal cannabis plans, as we taken an innovative approach with a business plan that positions us to take advantage of a growing and changing landscape – regulatory and commercial – in both hemp and medicinal cannabis.”
The licences allow the company to obtain cannabis plants for the purpose of cultivation, supply cannabis plants, cannabis or cannabis resin, and allow the packaging, transport, storage, possession, testing and control of cannabis plants, cannabis or cannabis resin.
Patient approvals for medicinal cannabis under Australia’s Special Access Scheme have surged in the past 12 months, from 567 in November 2018 to 3404 in November this year with a 15 per cent average increase in the past three months.
A United Nations vote scheduled for March 2020 could result in the removal of the classification of cannabis and cannabis resin as a Schedule IV drug, among other changes that could allow countries like Australia to further develop its cannabis industries.
Mr Keach said medicinal cannabis represented a major opportunity for agriculture in Tasmania.
“We’re selling Tasmania as being able to produce the world’s highest quality cannabinoids,” he said.
ECS Botanics has already developed a range of hemp products including hemp seed oil, dehulled hemp seeds, hemp soups, curry sauces and protein powder.