A cannabis farm in Armidale is hoping to have the first seeds planted by May and full production under way by June, including the employment of 30 locals.
Australia Natural Therapeutics Group is behind the project, which – while supplying both the Australian and German medicinal markets – is primarily focused on Australian-based research, according to chief executive officer Matt Cantello.
“Armidale will be one of three commercial sites for ANTG,” he said.
“We also have a cancer and, specifically, leukemia research centre with the University of Newcastle, as well as a research and development facility in Sydney.”
The company’s primary focus is on inflammation research, particularly brain and stomach inflammation, and pre-Alzheimer’s research.
“There is a growing body of evidence about stomach and brain inflammation causing many illnesses – but in Australia the research is not quite there yet.”
For legal reasons, the exact location and production quantities are unable to be released; however, construction of the “pharmaceutical-grade, completely airtight, positive-pressure cultivation facility” is expected to be completed by the end of the year.
“We will be sending flower to Germany, and producing gel caps and tinctures for the Australian market,” Mr Cantello said.
“They will be high CBD and low THC products that focus on inflammation.”
The company recently advertised 10 positions for the farm, including geneticists and a range of supervisory roles.
“Those roles have all been filled already, and we really wanted to focus on locals where possible,” Mr Cantello said.
“Armidale has a great university there, and we will be approaching the UNE and looking to sponsor some of their top students.
“At full operation the farm will provide 30 jobs, but there will also be flow-on for other jobs as well, down the line.”
The Armidale operation is the second to be approved in the New England North West, following Tamworth council approving an $8 million cannabis farm near Kootingal for Cann Pharmaceuticals recently.
“The region is the perfect location: the warm climate is great for growing conditions and in Armidale we are a bit closer to the sun,” Mr Cantello said. “It’s an exciting time for the industry.”