30 March 2016
The Sydney Morning Herald reports…….
Legalising medical cannabis would give rise overnight to an industry worth up to $150 million, a new study from the University of Sydney has found.
The NSW government will this year commence clinical trials of cannabis-derived medicine for conditions such as chemotherapy-related nausea. The federal government has also passed laws creating a licensing system for future supply of medicinal cannabis.
But a new white paper from the University of Sydney’s business school suggests it would have a major secondary effect: the creation of a multi-million dollar industry centring on the cannabis plant.
Cancer sufferer Jack Richardson talks to NSW Premier Mike Baird at the Chris O’Brien Lifehouse after the announcement of the third medicinal cannabis clinical trial. Photo: Dean Sewell
“It’s about much more than just the medical benefits,” said Michael Katz, an author of the study and associate lecturer at the school.
“We’re also going to see a range of employment and wealth creation opportunities”.
Rhys Cohen, the lead researcher on the paper, said tens of thousands of Australians might benefit from cannabis’ medical applications. The paper found up to 10,000 Australians currently diagnosed with multiple sclerosis might benefit from cannabis-based treatments in the future.
Comparing Australia with countries such as Israel and Canada where medicinal cannabis is legal, researchers estimated demand for the product in Australia would amount to the equivalent of more than 8500 kilograms of plant matter each year.
A greenhouse three times the size of the Sydney Cricket Ground would be required to produce it, the report found.
Production would create an industry worth in excess of $100 million within the first year of legalisation.
But the benefits are likely to extend beyond growing the plant, the researchers found.
“It goes well beyond production,” Mr Katz said. “There’s an entire [potential] ancillary industry.
“Every industry needs logistics but this one in particular […] given the need to ensure it doesn’t end up being used for illegal purposes.
“It’s right in line with Malcolm Turnbull’s innovation vision.”
The study quoted estimates from one Australian medicinal cannabis company, AusCann, suggesting it could within three years of legalisation export up to 10 tonnes of marijuana to Canada, with an estimated retail value of $75 million.
The study was conducted in collaboration with, but not funded by, MGC Pharmaceuticals, an international medicinal cannabis supplier, which provided information on market size.
The report notes that this demand is already spurring Australia’s black market for the drug and leading to increased “incarceration rates and associated state expenses”.
One report from the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare has found use of the drug is surging amongst Australians aged 50 or older.
The federal parliament last month passed a law that would allow the growing of marijuana for medicinal use under licence from the federal government.
Regulations supporting that law are being drafted and it would need to be enacted by the states to take effect.
NSW Premier Mike Baird has said he wants to make NSW a global leader in medicinal cannabis research.
Last year Barry and Joy Lambert donated nearly $35 million to the University of Sydney for a centre of excellence devoted to researching cannabinoid-based medicines.
‘Medicinal Cannabis in Australia: Science, Regulation & Industry’, Developed by the University of Sydney Business School’s Community Placement Program, as part of a strategic partnership with MGC Pharmaceuticals (ASX:MXC), an Australian biotechnology company already marketing medical cannabis products globally.