Just two years ago, the idea of the premier of the Australian state of Victoria sharing a video on Facebook of his cannabis crop—or just about anything cannabis-related—would have been unthinkable. But today it’s a political homerun, netting Aussie politician Daniel Andrews more than half a million views and tens of thousands of positive reactions, comments, and shares.
The video, posted to Facebook last month, offers a glimpse inside the Victorian government’s secret cannabis facility. Workers in protective clothing tend cannabis plants as they grow, then harvest and process the plants into extract.
The Victorian government was the first entity to be granted a research license for medical cannabis. It harvested the first crop in February. Due to security concerns, the government has extremely tight-lipped about the facility. The video shared by Andrews, however, makes clear that the indoor facility is sizeable and sophisticated.
A worker in protective clothing tends to plants in the Victoria state government’s top-secret cannabis cultivation site. (Courtesy Daniel Andrews/Facebook)
The same week Andrews shared the video, ABC’s Lateline aired a segment in which correspondants visited one of Cann Group’s Victorian facilities, where another medical cannabis crop is coming along. That video gives a look at Australia’s first commercial cannabis crop.
Cann Group hasn’t been growing for as long as the government, and its facility appears less spacious. The company received its commercial grow license in early March of this year, but for unknown reasons it has only recently started to grow commercially.
In fact, much remains shrouded in mystery about the grows—including their locations. The Lateline reporter begins the segment by with what feels like an ominous warning: “We can’t show you where we ended up or how we got in. Suffice to say you wouldn’t have a clue from outside what’s going on in here.” He then puts on pants with their pockets sewn shut so samples don’t walk out with the news crew.
Despite a slower than expected start, Cann Group is clearly proud of its crop. The company has been working closely with the Victorian government, and CEO Peter Crock recently traveled with Victorian Minister of Agriculture and of Regional Development Jaala Pulford to Canada to tour a more established cannabis facility, owned by Aurora Sky, that produces 7,000 kilograms (nearly 15,500 pounds) of cannabis every year.
Aurora Sky, a Canadian company with a 19.9% stake in Cann Group, has been selling cannabis only since the beginning of 2016. It was able to invite foreigners such as Crock and Pulford because, unlike Australia, Canada doesn’t shroud its cannabis facilities in secrecy. Aurora Sky’s new production center, we know, is nearby to Edmonton International Airport.
Both Crock and Pulford are hoping to learn from Canadian expertise as Australia gets closer to the launch of a large-scale medical cannabis program. Sowing the right seeds now—literally and figuratively—will let the state of Victoria reap significant benefits over the next few years.