Calls for local medicinal marijuana industry

A group of Latrobe Valley residents are calling for a medicinal marijuana industry in the region following the legalisation of medicinal cannabis in April.

Morwell local David Hollis started the petition for the cause on on Friday, 28 October and already has 49 signatures.

His aim is to present the suggestion to Premier Daniel Andrews when it reaches 100 supporters.

Mr Hollis said the establishment of a medicinal marijuana industry in Latrobe had many benefits.

“I believe it will help sick children and adults and it will contribute to a just transition for the Latrobe Valley at the same time,” Mr Hollis said.

“It would establish a new industry, and help people get some relief.”

The establishment of a new industry could also help offset the job losses of the Hazelwood power station and mine closure.

“In Colorado there have been millions of dollars in profits made, and tens of thousands of jobs created (by the medical marijuana industry),” Mr Hollis said.

“I believe we can have sustainable jobs, help desperately ill people and establish medical research facilities to exploit the full potential of this medical plant.”

The creation of the medical marijuana industry in Colorado resulted in 10,000 jobs directly linked with the business, according to the Marijuana Industry Group in the United States.

Mr Hollis said the cultivation and production of medicinal marijuana would be suited to the Latrobe and wider Gippsland area.

“Having researched transition issues for the past few years this is an industry that I know would fit our current agricultural policies,” he said.

“Medicinal marijuana grows best in wine regions. The Gippsland wine region includes the entire area of Gippsland located in south-eastern Victoria.”

The ‘Narcotic Drugs Amendment Act 2016’ officially began on the last weekend of October.

The first round of medical cannabis in Victoria will be used in 2017 for children with severe epilepsy.

*Aimee Dawson is a journalism student from La Trobe University.