A worker tends to cannabis plants at a plantation near the northern Israeli city of Safed, in this June 11, 2012 file picture. Reuters/Baz Ratner

Cannabis cultivation may soon turn out to be a major industry for drought-stricken farmers in South-west Queensland. The Federal Government’s decision to legalise medical marijuana use has been hailed by public and companies alike. Various communities around the country have come forward to support the right to grow the crop. Now, drought-stricken farmers have raised their voice too.

Earlier this week, the Department of Agriculture and Fisheries and representatives from Queensland Health met potential growers in Atherton Tablelands. Farmers there want to be the first to grow medicinal cannabis, right after licenses are offered by the government. More than 80 farmers attended the meeting.

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“We want to have the edge on this because we believe this is an emerging industry and has massive potential. We have great farmers up this way and what grows up here really takes off. You can grow anything on the Atherton tablelands ... The State Government has introduced a bill into parliament. And what that does is set up the framework for special access to medical cannabis,” Local state member Shane Knuth told the ABC.

Even the Cunnamulla community is desperately waiting for the State Government to fast track the progress of its medical cannabis operating scheme. The community is well set up to trial the production of medical marijuana. They wanted this new industry after the death of their table grape industry. For more than 30 years, irrigators on the Warrego River produced table grapes. However, they have been forced to pull out their vines due to falling prices.

As security is a major concern for the medical marijuana industry, experts believe that Cunnamulla is perfectly suitable for growing the cannabis crop as one of the region’s biggest advantages is isolation. This can be an added benefit as it will allow experts to implement security measures.

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