Maribyrnong City Council is pressing ahead with plans to establish a medicinal cannabis business despite objections from ratepayers and warnings from the industry.
The Melbourne local government area (LGA) is inviting the community to an online forum to discuss the proposal next Thursday (September 30).
Last week, the council resolved to seek community views on setting up a business to cultivate, produce and manufacture medicinal cannabis. The proposal cited the need to seek alternative revenue streams and external funding to reduce an over-reliance on ratepayers.
Maribyrnong mayor Michael Clarke said investment in such an enterprise would benefit those in the community with chronic health conditions for whom conventional treatments may not work; and provide employment in Maribyrnong, with likely flow-on impacts including research and development initiatives within the region.
He added: “We know the cost of imported medicinal cannabis is prohibitive for many looking for relief from pain or side effects of treatments.
“By investing in a medicinal cannabis enterprise, there is a potential opportunity for [the] council to partner with government and private industry — the scientists and experts — to establish a business that promises benefits to our ratepayers in a number of areas — employment, rates relief and their health and wellbeing.”
The council is gauging community support for the plan before deciding whether to proceed to a feasibility study and risk assessment.
When the suggestion was first mooted, Ratepayers Victoria said local governments should concentrate on delivering for ratepayers and leave the manufacturing of pharmaceuticals to scientists.
Medicinal Cannabis Industry Australia chair Peter Crock also warned of the difficulties in setting up a medicinal cannabis operation, describing it as “easy to say, hard to do”.
He added: “It’s not an instantaneous market. While there is a lot of interest in it, that doesn’t mean it’s an easy pathway to get to patients.”