A large greenhouse will be built where the drug will be grown for use in medicines.
Local agricultural entrepreneurs William and Neil Ewart have been given planning permission for the pioneering facility in Langholm, Scotland.
Ariel view of where the greenhouse for Scotland’s first legal cannabis farm in Langholm, (Image: triangle news)
Medical cannabis products containing THC – the drug’s psychoactive compound – were illegal in the UK until the law was changed in November 2018.
The change recognised evidence by scientists that medicinal cannabis benefits some patients.
Specialist doctors can now prescribe medications based on cannabis, which are most commonly used to treat epilepsy or chronic pain.
However, all the drugs which doctors use are currently imported because it has been illegal to grow the drug here.
Neil Ewart, said: “This is an excellent step in the correct direction but there are so many other steps to be taken.”
The 1.5 hectare greenhouse could be hugely profitable, as the team expects to produce 200 litres of oil a year, which will be made on site from the raw plant material.
The oil will be extracted from the plant and bottled before being sold to pharmaceutical companies who will turn it into a medicine.
About 50 people will be recruited locally for jobs including scientists, IT specialists, horticulturalists and security.
Scientists believe cannabis can help with chronic pain (Image: PA)
The farm will also have it’s own on-site generator which generates electricity and captures any heat that would be used to help grow the plants.
Planning documents reveal the businessmen sought to build a commercial glasshouse, associated water storage tanks and a car park.
In its decision report in February, Dumfries and Galloway Council said that it offered an opportunity to diversify and support the existing business at the family business, Craig Farm.
Despite the project being granted planning permission, they will now need to apply for a licence to produce cannabis which can be used by pharmaceutical companies for drugs to treat cancer and its treatment side effects, epilepsy and pain disorders.
Neil Ewart said that they had to “demonstrate that Langholm is a fit place to do this kind of thing” stressing that they had a large team working on the project.
He added: “We have to apply to the Home Office for a licence after planning, that’s the next biggest hurdle.
“I don’t want to sound too optimistic and make too much of a fuss because things can go wrong but it’s a very exciting project for Langholm.”
The family already run a successful horse racing training school known as James Ewart Racing across their 500 hectare hill farm in Borders Esk valley at 400 feet above sea level.
Australian firm LeafCann had previously been in discussions with North Ayrshire Council and is thought to be investigating potential sites in Irvine.
The first legal weed farm in the UK was revealed in January 2019 when London-based Sativa Investments was given planning permission for a 7.5-acre greenhouse to be constructed at a secret site in Wiltshire.
A large unit also opened in Sittingbourne, Kent, in 1998 under a special government exemption prior to the new legislation in 2018