Shadow Minister for Agriculture, Food and Fisheries David Ridgway has drafted legislation that would enable South Australian farmers to enter the lucrative poppy growing industry, provided they meet stringent safeguards.
Mr Ridgway will shortly release the Controlled Substances (Poppy Cultivation) Amendment Bill 2015 for public consultation.
The legislation would amend the Controlled Substances Act to enable South Australian farmers to apply for licences to cultivate and process alkaloid poppies.
“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,” said Mr Ridgway.
“Initial discussions with various farmers particularly in the South East have indicated 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.”