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Legalising poppy cultivation in South Australia

Shadow Minister for Agriculture, Food and Fisheries David Ridgway has welcomed the State Government’s decision to support Liberal legislation that will pave the way for South Australian farmers to enter the lucrative poppy growing industry, provided they meet stringent safeguards.

Mr Ridgway’s Controlled Substances (Poppy Cultivation) Amendment Bill 2015 will pass State Parliament with the support of the Labor Party.

The legislation would amend the Controlled Substances Act to enable South Australian farmers to apply for licences to cultivate and process alkaloid poppies.

“I’m delighted that common sense has prevailed and that South Australian farmers will be permitted to enter this lucrative market,” said Mr Ridgway.

“Given South Australia’s jobs crisis it is vital that farmers are given every opportunity to grow the value of their production and create new jobs.

“Currently, opium poppy cannot be legally planted or farmed in South Australia despite the fact it is cultivated and processed in Tasmania, Victoria and the Northern Territory.

“My discussions with farmers, particularly in the South East, confirmed legalising poppy farming in South Australia would be widely welcomed.

“Tasmania is now the world’s largest producer of legal opium poppy, with the industry producing $290 million worth of opium annually which accounts for 8% of Tasmania’s primary industries.”

In Tasmania opium poppy trials began in 1964 and commercial production began in 1970. Commercial production was legalised in Victoria (2013) and more recently in the Northern Territory (May, 2014). In Victoria it is anticipated that the poppy industry will be a $100 million industry within a decade.

“The prohibition of opium cultivation in South Australia is a hang-over from a previous age that locks our farmers out of a growing market that services an important health need,” said Mr Ridgway.

“Poppies are used to manufacture a wide range of painkillers including morphine, codeine, Nurofen Plus and Panadeine.

“Under the proposed legislation farmers would be able to apply for a licence and the Chief Executive of PIRSA would investigate and grant or refuse the application.”

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