Historic first crop harvested at mega medicinal cannabis facility in north-west Victoria

Historic first crop harvested at mega medicinal cannabis facility in north-west Victoria

Cann Group has begun harvesting at a “first of its kind” medical cannabis facility in north-west Victoria.

Key points:

  • The first crop has been harvested from a medicinal cannabis facility built in a former fruit juice factory near Mildura
  • Cann Group received approval to cultivate the crop at the $115 million facility in March
  • It is still waiting for approval to manufacture the final product at the facility

A “smaller than normal” first batch has been harvested from the facility near Mildura, which was built in a former fruit juice factory.

Chief operating officer Shane Duncan said despite some challenges, he was “really happy” with a healthy first batch.

“The next step is to dry it and then test it to see what the cannabinoid levels are,” he said.

“Probably for the next few months, we’ll take smaller than normal crops … just to ensure that we’ve got all the systems dialled in correctly: the fertigation, lighting, temperature controls, humidity controls.

“But by July or August, we’ll really be in a position to start to ramp up production.”

A new crop is now expected to be harvested every two weeks.

A head shot of a smiling middle-aged man, receding hairline, patterned white shirt, black-rimmed glasses.

Mr Duncan hopes processing will also soon be done at the facility.(Supplied)

Processing still to come

Mr Duncan said the crop would be dried for several days to reduce moisture before it was sent away for manufacturing, which involves extracting cannabinoids out of the plant and making oil, tincture or capsules for medical use.

In addition to cultivation, Mr Duncan hopes processing will also soon be done locally at the facility, with TGA approval of a manufacturing licence expected later this month.

“We’ve been commissioning and running pilot batches [making medical capsules] for a number of months now, so manufacturing on a level has been going for a while at the facility,” he said.

An overview of a large facility set in the plains, surrounded by bit of greenery and soil.

The 13.5 hectare site includes a fully automated glasshouse and laboratory. (Supplied)

Mr Duncan said there was 33 full-time staff currently on site, and he expected that to expand to “somewhere between 50 and 60” by the end of the year.

The Victorian government said the $115 million facility was the “first-of-its-kind” in Australia and would eventually have the capacity to grow up to 70,000 kilograms of dried cannabis flowers per year.

They estimate the project, including the construction of the 13.5-hectare facility, would deliver $191 million to the Mildura regional economy.

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