Western Riverina could be the perfect place to grow medical marijuana, after years of trying to shake the reputation of being the cannabis capital of NSW for all the wrong reasons.
As the support continues to grow to allow cannabis use for people in unbearable pain, the fertile farmland of this region could serve as an important supplier of the drug.
Federal Health Minister Sussan Ley announced last week the government was looking into changing the Narcotic Drugs Act to allow cannabis to be grown for medicinal and scientific purpose.
It is hoped that an independent regulator could be set up by the end of the year, if the senate approves the changes.
And the Riverina seems to be getting behind the push.
Griffith mayor John Dal Broi said the area had been used a couple of years ago for hemp farm trials.
“So we have people experienced in growing similar crops, and we have the irrigation here,” Councillor Dal Broi said.
“We have experience in row crops.”
He said he supported the use of using marijuana for medical purposes, but said farmers had to consider their return on investment.
“I don’t have any issues with medicinal cannabis being grown here,” he said.
Member for Riverina Michael McCormack was cautiously optimistic about the potential of a boost to the industry.
“With safeguards in place and strict control I think it would be a good thing for the region,” Mr McCormack said.
“The financial benefits would be great for the Riverina.”
Western Riverina irrigator Chint Quarisa welcomed the idea, but said the government would have to work hard to keep the bad seeds out.
“As long as (the government) can keep the wrong farmers from exploiting the situation,” Mr Quarisa said.
“But I can’t see a problem with it.”
The cannabis crops that are grown to produce oil are low in tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), which is the component illicit drug users get high from.
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