The introduction of poppy cultivation in South Australia is now one step closer with the State Government asking the community to provide feedback on a discussion paper and draft regulations.
The paper and regulations will be sent to farmers who have registered as part of the Expression of Interest (EoI) process, still underway. They will also be available to the wider public as part of this latest consultation process.
Licensing of poppy cultivation and processing, inspection and enforcement provisions, offences, and provisions for the ongoing management and administration of the sector form part of the proposed regulations.
There are also certain conditions potential growers would need to meet in order to obtain a licence to grow the crop. These conditions include having a contract with a licensed poppy processor, undertaking SA Police checks, along with other safety requirements aimed at protecting the opium crops from misuse.
The licit poppy crops would be used in the manufacture of licit drugs such as pain killers and anaesthetics.
The draft regulatory framework and discussion paper has been released for public consultation until 5pm Friday 17 June 2016.
Interested parties are invited to provide their feedback. Hardcopies of the draft regulatory framework and discussion paper can be downloaded at www.pir.sa.gov.au/poppycultivation
Australia is an international leader in the manufacturing and exporting of opiate raw material, with currently around 50 per cent of the world's market of opiates for pharmaceutical manufacture and research.
The licit cultivation of poppies currently occurs in Tasmania, Victoria and the Northern Territory.
Until August 2014 the industry was confined to Tasmania. At that time the Australian Government conditionally agreed to the geographical expansion of licit opium poppy cultivation to the mainland states.
Late last year, the Controlled Substances Act 1984 was amended in the South Australian Parliament making poppy cultivation legal in the state.
The growing of poppy crops in South Australia, particularly in the lower south-east region, presents a potentially viable and profitable rotational option for farmers who traditionally grow seed and other horticultural crops. The south-east presents an area with suitable climatic and soil conditions, with the added advantage of existing crop irrigation infrastructure.
Primary Industries and Region SA (PIRSA) is working in partnership with SA Health and SA Police to develop the regulatory framework.
Quotes attributable to Biosecurity SA's Executive Director Will Zacharin
The proposed framework provides suitable checks and balances to ensure the safe cultivation and processing of opium poppies as a potential new industry for the state's vital agriculture sector.
Since the passing of Controlled Substances Act 1984 amendments PIRSA is working towards developing and implementing a regulatory framework by mid-2016.
As part of this work an Expression of Interest (EoI) process seeking interest from potential growers is already underway. This was not only to obtain an accurate picture of how many producers are interested in trying the crop but to allow us to consult with these registered farmers as the implementation of the regulatory framework progressed.
The purpose of this latest consultation is to gauge the appropriateness of the proposed framework across the whole agricultural community not just those registered farmers.
The introduction of licit poppy cultivation, with the first local crops possibly being grown as early as next year, would be a totally new addition to South Australia's cropping sector. It is a very exciting prospect for our regional farmers.