Maribyrnong parish council plans to become the first Australian parish council to grow medicinal cannabis to cut household costs.
Mayor Michael Clarke said with the rapidly increasing domestic demand for medical cannabis, there is an opportunity to grow, produce and manufacture it within the community.
He said the company could provide a non-collective bargaining revenue stream and increase local employment.
“It’s getting more and more obvious that the community is really suffering financially,” said Cr Clarke.
“The community asks us to check the prices. You ask, can we bring the prices down?
“We know people seek advice to try to provide services but cut costs.
“We did a scan of what we can afford and it looks like we’re pretty clear: the medical cannabis industry has a great opportunity to consult.”
Cr Clarke said the industry is still in its infancy and has tremendous growth potential.
“We know it will grow incredibly fast by 2025, and we know it will keep growing,” he said.
“The important thing is that it is an industry that we can get into and that does not affect other segments of the corporate sector in our community – this is an industry that no one else is involved in.
“It’s an ethical industry: we’re looking for a product that will help the health and well-being of our community.
“It’s an opportunity for employment.
“In a world where Australia has lost its manufacturing base, it has lost its heavy industry, this is an industry that we can enter, that is a growth industry – that is potentially an important export industry for us and can be taken over by the community . ”
He said Footscray previously had its own electricity business until it was bought out by the former State Electricity Commission, so getting into the industry isn’t new.
Medical cannabis products are prescribed by doctors to manage symptoms of a medical condition or the side effects of medical treatment.
“This is said to help people with chronic pain, arthritis, multiple sclerosis, cancer and epilepsy,” said Cr Clarke.
“It’s an industry that will have strong academic research at its base, but it will be a finance-driven industry where we’re trying to make significant amounts of money that we can use to make a significant impact on budget rates.
“We want to reduce the rate burden.”
The community is consulted prior to planning.
“We’re going to ask the community if we want to get involved in this industry to drive down household prices,” said Cr Clarke.
“We will not act unless we have the support of the community.”