Medcan has formally opened its new purpose-built indoor growing facility in Queensland, with its vertical growing design able to produce 6,000kg of flower each year, double its current volume.

The high-tech facility, in Brisbane’s south west, has been two years in the planning and will generate cannabis worth an estimated A$60 million.

In addition to the six cultivation rooms, the $12m construction features propagation, mother and vegetative rooms along with GMP manufacturing and processing.

Chief executive Craig Cochran described the opening as a “momentous occasion” for Medcan and one that signalled a “massive and vital shift towards locally-produced medicinal cannabis”.

“Up until now, we have been selling more medicinal cannabis than we can produce,” he said. “The Heathwood facility, which has been purpose-built and uses a heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) system, allows us to perpetually harvest our crop in an environment that is totally controlled by our cultivation team.

“We are incredibly proud to reveal one of the most advanced, high-tech medicinal cannabis facilities in the southern hemisphere, and for that matter, anywhere in the world.”

Three of the cultivation rooms at the 3,000 square metre facility are already in operation with the firm saying its vertical growing technique will enable it to produce smaller plants with less waste.

The crop consists of two layers, each consisting of 16 plants per square metre.

Cochran said: “To put this into perspective, a greenhouse set-up generally produces big plants with plenty of leaves and excessive biomass.

“Where they might grow one plant per square metre, a vertical farming set-up like ours produces smaller, condensed, structured plants which don’t produce as much wastage and provide more cannabinoids per square metre as a result.

Medcan, which claims it holds 10% of Australia’s dried flower market, estimated it will produce enough dried flower for 25,000 patients, based on someone using two tubs of flower each month.

The firm said its HVAC system is similar in size to that used by international airport terminals while its software solution – called PRIVA – will automate climate to ensure what it described as “high-quality growth”.

Cochran said the software system uses “algorithmic logic” to calculate the environment and receives information from hundreds of probes and different measuring equipment across the plant. Its irrigation system is also automated.

Such automation will enable the firm to deliver “consistent results which preserve the quality, composition and reliability of supply”, he said.

The facility is expected to create 100 jobs over the next 12 months.

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...

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