Melbourne local government area Maribyrnong City Council has voted unanimously to undertake a feasibility study into establishing a council-owned medicinal cannabis enterprise.

The idea to set up a business to cultivate, produce and manufacture medicinal cannabis was first mooted in September 2021 but was met with skepticism from Ratepayers Victoria and Medicinal Cannabis Industry Australia at the time.

Maribyrnong City Council mayor Anthony Tran

However, mayor Anthony Tran said pressure from the community to reduce rates had encouraged the council to look “outside the box” to cut taxes and the move into cannabis had received widespread support from ratepayers.

The council conducted community engagement between September 2021 and January 2022, including a survey on its website, a public webinar and a forum with the Vietnamese community.

The survey found 74% of 600 respondents supported the medicinal cannabis plan, citing the perceived health benefits, the potential to cut rates, local employment opportunities, and its progressive nature as reasons for doing so.

However, respondents also called for caution, demanding a robust business case be made with achievable outcomes.

Tran added: “While generally supportive of the idea of council entering the medicinal cannabis industry, we also understand our community wants to see more detail around what this would look like.

“They have made it clear they want to see a more extensive investigation to answer their questions around things like the operational model and specifically costs that would be involved before they would be willing to see the venture proceed any further.”

A study will be commissioned to determine the feasibility of the project, including commercial and legal due diligence, along with an assessment of the council’s risk exposure as required under the Local Government Act 2020.

The council will consider whether to proceed further after receiving a report on the study and assessment findings in October.

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...