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A group lobbying for medical marijuana to be legalised in South Australia has suggested the Holden car plant there be established as the location for a proposed large-scale medical cannabis plantation when it shutters in late 2017.

In news that will no doubt light up the faces of those supportive of drug reform, the Australian Cannabis Corporation (ACC) suggested to News Ltd’s Adelaide Now this week that South Australia had a golden opportunity to be at the centre of a budding new industry, potentially worth billions, if it regulated such treatment.

And ACC founder Ben Fitzsimons this week suggested to the paper that the Holden site would be ideal as a site to cultivate marijuana crops after it closes. The factory has a reported 25ha under its roof, and the ACC would look to grow four crops a year hydroponically. Better than tumbleweeds…

There have long been calls for marijuana to be legalised for medical use in Australia, and several states are doing trials. Victoria already passed the measure earlier this year. An opinion poll found strong support in SA for relaxed laws around the issue.

Fitzsimons said it was possible the state government could take responsibility for the site and purchase it from Holden in the same way it did after Mitsubishi left in 2008. The Mitsubishi HQ was purchased with public funds in 2010 and turned into a ‘clean tech hub’.

The ACC also has bolder ideas, suggesting that SA could position itself to “become the next Colorado” if marijuana were legalised widely, as has recently happened across multiple US states and become a multi-billion dollar industry. Colorado enacted the measure in 2014.

Yet Fitzsimons also delivered a pot-shot at decision-makers, who he bluntly suggested needed to be more supportive of new industries and cut the smoke-and-mirrors.

“Why is our thinking restricted to digging a hole in the ground in the desert and burying nuclear waste? he asked, adding “there are guys out there trying to do innovative stuff but they keep hitting the wall.”

The ACC says it had an agreement with an Adelaide laboratory and wanted to make cannabis products beyond medical applications — hemp is used as a building material and for clothing.

“We want to employ thousands of South Australians,” an Australian Cannabis Corporation shareholder told the paper

“If SA could grow medical marijuana at the Holden site, using only half of the existing buildings, it could generate $800,000,000 per annum and create over 2500 new jobs,’’ he boldly stated in high-profile advertisement copy.

The ACC wants to set up joint research partnerships with the SA Health and Medical Research Institute and the University of SA.

We’re going to contact Holden tomorrow and try to shed some more light on this story.




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