A new crop enterprise has opened up in Victoria but Goulburn Valley farmers will not have the chance to capitalise on the opportunity.
Licences are now available for those wanting to legally grow a cannabis crop for medicinal use after the Narcotic Drugs Amendment Act 2016 came into effect on October 30, however farmers will not be eligible to apply for a licence.
According to government regulations, the sensitive nature of the crop and its medicinal purposes, it can only be grown under strict, scientific control.
The cannabis will be available to children with epilepsy as early as next year and will eventually be allowed to assist with other illnesses.
While the new law will not mean much to farmers, the crop has sparked some conversation with Picola cropping farmer Russel Baker saying he was discussing the potential of growing cannabis with his agronomist not long before the announcement.
‘‘I told him I’d like to have a go at growing some of that,’’ Mr Baker said.
After discussion with his agronomist, Mr Baker said he believed the cannabis crop was multi-purpose and could also be used for more than just medicinal purposes.
If it was an option for farmers, Picola cropping farmer Steve Lindsay said he would definitely be interested in learning more about a new crop.
‘‘I’d be keen to have a crack at it — I like to try anything,’’ Mr Lindsay said.
Mr Lindsay is no stranger to trialling alternative crops, especially ones for medicinal use, and in the past has tried his hand at growing poppies for pain relieving medication.
While he did not encounter any issues growing a crop with narcotic content, he acknowledged that cannabis would require stricter protocol.
Victorian Agriculture Minister Jaala Pulford said the cannabis horticultural trial was ‘‘on track’’ to deliver this life-changing product.
‘‘Our Australian-first cannabis horticultural trial will deliver this life-changing product to those who need it the most,’’ Ms Pulford said.
Growing cannabis for recreational use remains illegal.