Further details have emerged of the circumstances surrounding an ambitious project to establish a massive medical marijuana growing facility in the Australian state of New South Wales.
As we reported last month, the town of Casino could become the site of a huge medicinal cannabis greenhouse operation, proposed by Canadian company PUF Ventures via its new subsidiary PUF Ventures Australia (PVA). The proposal has the backing of Richmond Valley Council.
The Council signed a Memorandum of Agreement (MoU) with PUF, offering the company very favourable terms on the land required. In exchange, PUF envisions the facility becoming a major employer in the area.
A business paper for a Council meeting last night reveals there was certainly a sense of urgency regarding the inking of the MoU.
“A number of council areas were being considered by PVA and Council acted promptly to make the case for PVA to invest in and establish a partnership with Richmond Valley Council which they have now done,” states the document.
It seems PVA had been in talks with several councils in the Northern Rivers region and reviewed up to 70 potential sites.
Regarding the land involved, a commercial lease with Council will be drawn up (5+5+10 years) with an option for PVA to purchase the land after 5 years.
“The initial 5 years rent will be at no cost to PVA and the option to purchase is at a value less than a recent valuation for the land, but more than Council paid for it when purchased in 1999.”
The land parcel consists of 27 hectares located on the north- eastern edge of Casino.
Council will also provide some infrastructure works as part of the deal and other incentives. It’s expected the $100 million project will employ up to 300 people directly; plus generate another 100 indirect jobs.
“An investment of this size which can deliver a massive boost to our Gross Regional Product and resultant jobs, together with many skills and training opportunities across a wide age demographic, does not present often,” states Richmond Valley Council General Manager, Vaughan Macdonald.
PUF Ventures says the first phase of the project will see an area of approximately 300,000-square-feet (around 27,870 square metres), covered; which it states will be the largest medical cannabis greenhouse in Australia. That sounds very impressive, but there are very few (legal) cannabis greenhouses in Australia. Still, it’s a huge facility by any benchmark.
“The first crop, based on current construction timelines, permitting and various Australian approvals, is expected to be planted in the fourth quarter 2018. PUF will seek financing to cover the costs of the project from both local and international partners,” said the company.