Australia’s biggest medicinal cannabis extraction and contract manufacturing plant will be built at a secret location in Melbourne’s south-east in a $50 million project aiming to help the local industry become more self-sufficient.

The facility will be owned, funded and operated by The Valens Company, a Canadian medicinal cannabis business listed on the Toronto Stock Exchange. However, an Australian distributor of medicinal cannabis, Cannvalate, is managing the project, hiring staff and fitting it out with the necessary equipment.

The 4500 square metre facility will process raw material and produce a range of finished medicines, including soft gel capsules, tablets and ointments. It will have double perimeter fences, 24 hour CCTV and a range of other security measures, including a vault where finished products will be stored.

“It will be very, very secure,” said Cannvalate chief executive Sud Agarwal.

Under licensing requirements, the plant’s address cannot be disclosed but it will be in close proximity to cannabis cultivation sites.

“It’s going to be the biggest manufacturing plant in Australia, probably by a factor of at least five times. So it’s going to completely change the dynamic of cannabis extraction and cannabis manufacturing,” Dr Agarwal said.

New figures from Australia’s Therapeutic Goods Administration show that demand for medicinal cannabis prescriptions hit 3378 in April, which is more than triple the total in April last year of 1108. Dr Agarwal said Australia was the fourth largest medicinal cannabis market in the world behind the US, Canada and Germany.

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