LeafCann CEO Elisabetta Faenza has warned adult-use legalisation could see investment drain away from the medicinal cannabis industry.

LeafCann CEO Elisabetta Faenza

In November 2021, South Australia Greens MP Tammy Franks tabled a bill in the Upper House with the aim of legalising recreational use in the state.  

But Faenza told CityMag LeafCann had struggled to get support from the SA government in the firm’s early days, compared to neighbouring Victoria.

And she feared investment might flow away from a medicinal sector abandoned by the state government towards those making money from recreational use if it was legalised.

“In some places, you’ve seen a flight of investment from medicinal into recreational, but probably more tellingly, you’re seeing a flight of facilities that are set up for medicinal adding in production of recreational cannabis,” she said.

“Generally what happens is companies become dedicated to adult-use and the development of those products which have a lower bar in terms of cost of production. So you have facilities downgraded so they can produce recreational cannabis.

“I’m not saying that adult-use is a good or a bad thing – it’s actually how it’s implemented that will determine whether it’s a good or a bad thing, and for me the standards are important. 

“But simultaneously, concepts of equality and criminality are important – there’s been a lot of injustice done around the world, especially to minorities and people with lower incomes, who often turn to cannabis to self-medicate. 

“So there’s a whole range of issues that need to be addressed.”

When the bill was first proposed, Franks said: “The Greens envision a South Australia where this long-demonised plant our climate grows so well is harvested and used to create a new source of wealth that can be put to good use, such as healing our ailing health system.

“A South Australia where cannabis profits are directed into preventative health and education, and where cannabis users are diverted away from our criminal justice system.”

Prior to launching Cannabiz, Martin was co-founder and CEO of Asia-Pac’s leading B2B media and marketing information brand Mumbrella, overseeing its sale to Diversified Communications in 2017. A journalist...

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