BIG READ: Company reveals plans now cannabis has go-ahead
THEY'VE spent years researching medicinal cannabis and now it's all systems go for the THC Global Group Limited Bundaberg research facility, operated by Canndeo.
The company has been granted a manufacture licence for the production of extracts and tinctures of cannabis and cannabis resin from the Australian Office of Drug Control.
The manufacturing green light is expected to provide opportunities for both THC Global and job-seekers in Bundaberg.
THC Global's chief executive Ken Charteris said it was the final hurdle in what had been a more-than-two-year journey for the Australian company.
The company now has all the licences to allow them to go from "farm to pharma".
"That includes growing, developing of plants, all the way through to an active medicine for the Australian marketplace initially and obviously to export," he said.
Mr Charteris said for the product they were targeting first validation and release for the last quarter of this year.
While having previously been able to research and breed crops, Mr Charteris said the manufacturing licence would see their operation expand in Bundaberg, opening up employment opportunities.
"Immediately it means we will be increasing our resources here, in planning we've already been increasing our resources here in Bundaberg, likewise we will be enhancing some of our structures here, to accommodate further research and development - particularly in tissue culturing so we can meet future production requirements," he said.
"It will lead on to our extraction facilities, which will be developed here, which will give us our formulations then we'll compete our Good Manufacturing Practices (GMP) and TGA certification by the last quarter of this year."
He said in the short term, the Bundy workforce would probably increase by up to eight agricultural positions, with up to four in the extraction area.
"You can't do anything until you actually have your licence, so we've been on standby for 18 months," he said.
"Trust we have planning, execution will be like a military operation, you'll be surprised how quick we move to the next level.
"For this operation we were extremely pleased because this was the beginning of our cannabis business here in Australia, we've got three other operations in Australia plus overseas, so this being the first Cannedo it was good to have the complete sweep.
"Also coupled with the research of agriculture being the Bundaberg area, it was just so pleasing, I think everybody was in shock.
"Now the hard work starts, all the things we've been planning and all the equipment we've got on standby, all of a sudden there'll be a scurry to get all of that together."
He said while they were prepped for exports, the firm's first commitment was to the Australian market.
"Every milligram of cannabis will initially be focused on the Australian market," Mr Charteris said.
Bundaberg grower John Hall said the plants in the Bundy region started out as industrial hemp plants with low THC, which they have bred for higher CBD.
"They're technically an industrial hemp plant still because their THC is below 1 per cent, but we've been able to quadruple the CBD content and we keep bringing new strains out every six months, with more applicable ratios between THC and CBD," he said.
"They're local strains, they've been bred in Bundaberg and they've climatised, they grow very well here."
Mr Hall said they faced the same pest and disease pressures as conventional vegetable grower.
"We extract the CBD, it's extracted in the facility, and we will produce an oil with all of the terpenes and CBD with a very small amount of THC," he said.
"They'll be what they call whole-plant extracts and usually its in an oil carrier so that it's diluted down to be an exact analysis."
Mr Charteris said they would be initially producing oils, "then flowing through to capsules...".