An Australian company is determined to build the first legal cannabis farm in Scotland after talks with a local authority.
LeafCann was recently granted a licence to manufacture medicinal cannabis and they have been in discussions with North Ayrshire Council about identifying potential sites in Irvine, North Ayrshire.
However, local authority bosses say nothing has been agreed yet.
This comes after Home Secretary Sajid Javid legalised cannabis-based medicines last year, and doctors can now prescribe products which are most commonly used to treat epilepsy or chronic pain.
However, given that it has been illegal to grow the drug in the UK for decades, the medications handed out by the NHS are imported.
A council spokesperson said: “We are aware of interest from LeafCann and we’ve had initial discussions with them.
“There is nothing imminent or close to being agreed.”
Monica Lennon, Scottish Labour’s health spokesperson, welcomed the news.
She said: “It’s encouraging to hear that talks are underway that could lead to the improved availability of medicinal cannabis within Scotland’s NHS.”
It emerged in January that cannabis could be grown legally in the UK, under plans for a special farm to be set up in England.
London-based Sativa Investments was given planning permission for a 7.5-acre greenhouse to be constructed in rural Wiltshire.
It has been estimated that the facility could earn the firm around £32 million per harvest.
Its exact location has not been disclosed.
It was revealed that talks have taken place between LeafCann and Labour-run North Ayrshire Council about a potential Scottish facility.
In May, LeafCann Group Pty Ltd announced that a subsidiary had been granted a licence to manufacture medicinal cannabis by the Australian Office of Drug Control.
Chief executive Elisabetta Faenza said at the time: “After several years of company development, I am delighted that LeafCann can now begin in earnest to execute our business plan towards delivering medicinal cannabis products to the many patients whose conditions are not treated effectively by existing pharmaceuticals, and whose quality of life could be substantially improved.”
LeafCann Group’s chief scientist, Dr Jaroslav Boublik, added: “Our team is focused on delivering the highest quality product, focusing on high-tech indoor facilities.”
A source said there had been a “couple of meetings” between the council and the company, adding that nothing was “signed and sealed”.
The company did not respond to a request for comment.
According to Companies House, LeafCann UK Ltd, a British subsidiary, was incorporated in January.
It emerged last week that a former police officer, Lisa Quarrell, smuggled a cannabis product into Scotland to help her six-year-old son Cole Thomson, who has severe epilepsy.
Quarrell, from East Kilbride, travelled to the Netherlands to bring back medical cannabis oil for Cole, who has had brain surgery and has tried anti-epileptic drugs.
The mother, who has shelled out thousands of pounds to bring back the drug illegally, told the BBC: “I’d sell my house. I would. I can’t let him get sicker. I need to get him better. There’s nothing else for it.”
She added that a bad day for her son could mean him having up to 16 seizures.
She said: “He’ll convulse, he’ll click in his mouth, his eyes will roll back, he’ll drop to the floor with no notice.
“It’s the most heartbreaking thing to watch.
“Two-and-a-half minutes has never felt so long as when you’re watching your child take a seizure.
“Cole had never had a dream because he didn’t get to sleep long enough or deep enough to have one.”
Lennon said: “Urgent action is needed to make sure people who would benefit from medicinal cannabis prescriptions for painful and life-limiting conditions get them.
“It would benefit people like my six-year-old constituent Cole Thomson, who has a severe form of epilepsy.
“Parents shouldn’t have to go to extreme lengths to obtain medicine for their children and that’s why I’ve supported Cole’s mum Lisa Quarrell and Karen Gray from Parents of Hope, in their fight to access medicinal cannabis on the NHS in Scotland.
“I welcome any plans that will make this a reality.”
Scottish Tory shadow health secretary Miles Briggs MSP said: “So long as it is strictly controlled then there should be no issue with it being grown.
“However, any potential site must be agreed with the local community to make sure the views of local residents are taken into account, with site security clearly paramount.”
“Urgent action is needed to help people who would benefit from medicinal cannabis… I welcome any plans that will make this a reality.”
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