Australia Cannabis farm approved for western Brisbane, but nearby residents not consulted

03:51  11 august  2018
03:51  11 august  2018 Source:   abc.net.au

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In the midst of a rapidly growing medicinal cannabis industry, Brisbane's western suburbs could soon house what is thought to be the city's first cannabis farm.

The Brisbane City Council (BCC) has confirmed that two months ago it approved a development application for a horticulture operation in Brisbane's west with minimal public consultation.

The operation is two minutes' drive from a state school and alongside a sports park and children's playground currently under construction.

"The proposal was to commercially cultivate, store and pack medicinal marijuana," a council spokesman said.

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"The site is zoned for rural uses, such as farming and horticulture, and was also approved by the Queensland Government."

BCC opposition planning spokesman Councillor Jared Cassidy said the approval was a step in the right direction, but residents should have been advised.

"We do support the use of this site for medical marijuana, it is a rural-zoned site, but people deserve to know what's going on in their community and we'll be interested to see people's reactions to this," Cr Cassidy said.

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"There's surrounding properties and sports fields near there, so we're calling on council to make sure that that is all managed and people are well aware with what's going on and through the approval process, strict controls are put on around that as well.

"We think it's an exciting opportunity, particularly for parents with very sick children where evidence has shown that medicinal cannabis may be the only treatment."

The development application attracted only one public submission.

It argued that it would not be "appropriate that certain plants be grown right next door to a sports facility that will cater to children".

"It is not appropriate for a decision to be made without community consultation and a disclosure of the whole purpose of the application to the community," the submission said.

Nearby residents told the ABC they knew nothing about the plan.

Some echoed concerns, while others were supportive of the plan.

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City planning chair Councillor Matthew Bourke said BCC essentially had to be blind to what is being grown, as cannabis approvals were granted by the Federal Government.

"Council has no ability to control the actual type of crops that are grown on land that is zoned for rural or horticultural purposes, we have to assess the development application against the relevant provisions inside our planning scheme," he said.

'We need the product': AMAQ

Two years ago, State Parliament granted GPs the ability to prescribe medicinal cannabis.

However, barriers still exist for doctors to prescribe related drugs.

Dr James Finn from the Queensland branch of the Australian Medical Association said increasing the amount of cannabis manufactured in Australia would improve clinical trials.

"We need the product, we need different varieties of the product," he said.

"There's no reason that a safe, secure country like Australia can't be a producer for the export market of cannabis derivative products," he said.

This year across Australia there has been an almost five-fold increase in licences granted to farms to grow medicinal cannabis.

There have 29 licences granted in Australia authorising cultivation and production of medicinal cannabis.

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