MedReleaf Australia chief executive Russell Harding tells Cannabiz of his latest plans for the company, discusses the thorny issue of imported product and expresses hope that subsidies may not be far away.

When MedReleaf Australia formally announced itself to the local market in early 2018, it, like many, was eyeing rapid growth.

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The company, a joint venture with Canadian giant MedReleaf Corp, had already acquired a four-hectare plot of land near Brisbane, with publicly-stated aims to construct an 8,000sqm facility during the year.

Russell Harding: large-scale facilities are ‘dinosaurs’

Stage two of the blueprint would expand that to 23,000sqm, with plans to cultivate and manufacture 20 tonnes of medicinal cannabis each year. It was an ambitious vision.

“Yes, well that was the plan at that time,” MedReleaf Australia chief executive Russell Harding recalled. “But as we all know, there’s been a global reset of the industry. Most of the facilities of that size are almost dinosaurs.”

MedReleaf was certainly not alone in talking big in the 24 months after medicinal cannabis was legalised in Australia. But where once there was boldness and hype, realism and pragmatism have now set in.

Some large-scale facilities are being sold at a fraction of the cost they were once worth, Harding said. Nevertheless, while a return to mass-production strategies is unlikely – certainly not in the immediate future – local manufacturing remains the goal.

“If anything there’s a global over-supply right now. At this point in time, to build an 8,000sqm cultivation facility, we just don’t see that as appropriate,” Harding told Cannabiz.

Steve has reported for a number of consumer and B2B titles over a journalism career spanning more than three decades. He is a regulator contributor to health journal, The Medical Republic, writing on...