The fight for access to cannabis medicine means a lot to Barry Lambert. His granddaughter suffers from a severe form of epilepsy. That is why this retired financial billionaire donated $33.7 million dollars to Sydney University. But his generosity might be money down the drain as Australian law looks to change.
Grow laws will kill research & the industry
Imagine the cost of bread and resultant social unrest if we had to grow wheat in a glass house because someone might use it to make alcohol.
Mr. Lambert compares what is happening with the law right now to wheat. And he’s right. The current supplier of cannabis oil for the research in Sydney is Ecofibre. Their low THC cannabis under the new law will be classified as industrial hemp. Medical cannabis, on the other hand, will have to be grown in glass greenhouses, separate from the industrial crop.
The government announced last month it had received approval for a $2 million dollar greenhouse for the purposes of growing this non-government medical cannabis.
Barry Lambert faces a personal battle
Mr. Lambert’s son, Michael, was charged last year with growing cannabis to help his daughter with her Dravets Syndrome. Katelyn, the little girl at the center of it all, suffers up to 1,400 seizures a day. Michael faces court next month.
Mr. Lambert also has a financial horse in the game, as he remains an investor in Ecofibre. The company’s chief executive, Eric Wang, stated that the new guidelines for cultivation will hinder them incredibly.
Industrial hemp doesn’t have any narcotic value. If you grow marijuana yes, people can steal it, but we’ve been caught up in this.
He argues that their cannabis still possesses over a hundred other medically viable cannabinoids, and should be used as a source for the research.
The new law
Mr. Wang said that the Office of Drug Control Policy informed growers across Australia of the changes last week. However, a spokeswoman for the Health Department denied any release of changes.
No directions or decisions have been undertaken at this time for the cultivation requirements for cannabis.
The ODC website now states that “strict separation between the two crops” will have to be maintained for medical cannabis and industrial hemp.
Common grower knowledge
Low-THC strain cannabis and industrial hemp are virtually indistinguishable, and therefore growers are justifiably concerned over this issue. But any cannabis grower looking for high THC can tell you that separation is a must.
One male plant of hemp could pollinate an entire field of high-quality herb. Turning the plants to seed, and worse, lowering the THC in the final product would ruin the investment.
The plight of Katelyn aside, this still looks like the government decided to take the money from Mr. Lambert and run with it. The most important thing for Barry Lambert is the health of people like his granddaughter.
But his plan to leave a legacy in the form of The Lambert Initiative for Cannabinoid Therapeutics will end up making money for someone else instead.
Do you think that the ties between his business investment and his donation helped kill the connection? Or is it just good sense to put specific guidelines in place for higher THC cannabis cultivation? Share your opinion on social media or in the comments below.