ABC News Australia reports…..
In a secret location near Swan Hill, an organic trial crop of medicinal cannabis has been growing out in the paddock in full daylight.
- Medicinal cannabis is legal for health purposes across the country, but due to strict regulations it is prohibitively expensive for many
- There is currently no subsidy for cannabis products under the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme
- Sold as a game changer for people suffering chronic pain
It is hoped the potent plants will yield well, resulting in accelerated planting later this year.
Murray Meds managing director, Nan-Marie Schoerie, said outdoor facilities are not common in Australia.
“It’s very much the way the global trend is going,” she said.
“There are a number of medicinal cannabis facilities that are being established … but these are all what they call protective cropping or indoor growers that have large greenhouses and significant amount of infrastructure.”
A ‘more traditional crop’
Ms Schoerie said they had high hopes when it came to growing in a conventional way.
“The cost of growing outdoors is significantly lower,” she said.
“And so it’s much more of a traditional agricultural crop. “It’s going directly in the ground, it gets its energy from the sun, not from lighting, and we draw our water directly from the river.”
Ms Schoerie said the idea to move into medicinal cannabis rather than hemp food and fibre was to make marijuana affordable to those most in need.
“The main reason behind us doing what we’re doing [is] that we realised pretty early on, when friends were looking at using cannabis or people that were on chemotherapy, or really not well, as soon as they went through the process of getting prescriptions … they just could not afford it,” she said.
The Murray Meds team have been applying regenerative farming techniques to the pilot planting.
“We planted really late … we were impacted by COVID-19,” Ms Schoerie said.
“Our seeds got stuck in Europe literally at the time that it happened. The seeds were due to come in March [but] they only arrived in the middle of April.
“So we planted a small crop just to go through what we call proof of concept … but it wouldn’t be a normal planting season.
“The typical planting season is September, October and you’d harvest in May, so you can imagine us planting in April — that’s not what was supposed to happen.”