Council takes next step in exploring Medicinal Cannabis venture
Following support from the community, Council has voted unanimously to undertake a feasibility study to explore the opportunity to establish a medicinal cannabis enterprise as a means of reducing the rates burden on its community.
The idea to set up a business to cultivate, produce and manufacture medicinal cannabis was proposed in a Notice of Motion last September.
A survey to gather feedback, and a public webinar and forum with the Vietnamese community to provide information and answer questions, were undertaken during five months of engagement, from September 2021 to January 2022.
Of the 600 who responded to the survey, 74% answered 'yes' to the question "Would you support Council entering the medicinal cannabis business?"
Health benefits for the greater community, opportunity to reduce rates, local employment opportunities, and the proposal being a progressive venture, were the key reasons given for support. This was tempered with a call for caution, the need for a robust case and confidence in an achievable outcome.
Council has taken this feedback on board with a decision at the March 2022 meeting to undertake a study to determine the feasibility of the propject. This includes commercial and legal due diligence along with an assessment of the Council’s risk exposure as required under the Local Government Act 2020.
Council will consider whether to proceed further after receiving a report on the study and assessment findings in October.
Maribyrnong City Council is committed to seeking alternate revenue streams and external funding opportunities to reduce the reliance on rates.
With the rapidly rising domestic demand, it is felt a medicinal cannabis enterprise has the potential to bring in a solid income stream from a legal product to not only offset rates, but also deliver employment opportunities and contribute to the wellbeing of community members with chronic health conditions for whom conventional medicines do not work.
Medicinal cannabis products are legal, high-quality medicines prescribed by a doctor to treat illness or pain associated with:
- multiple sclerosis
- symptoms associated with cancer
- pain; and
- symptom relief in palliative care.
State and federal governments only opened the door for medicinal cannabis operations in 2015. The market is still strictly regulated, but given increases in demand, it is forecast to reach $5 billion in Australia by 2025.
74% of the 600 survey respondents supported the idea of the Council entering into the medicinal cannabis business, provided it can demonstrate the viability of the venture.
The common themes for support included:
- health benefits for the greater community
- an opportunity to reduce rates
- local employment opportunities, and
- the proposal being a progressive venture for the Council.
A public forum was also held on Thursday 30 September to answer community questions. A recording is available below and responses to these questions are available on this page under Forum Q&As