The government announced legislation earlier this week to legalise medical marijuana oil to help people with cancer, epilepsy, HIV or AIDS, multiple sclerosis and chronic illnesses.
Polwarth Greens candidate Joe Miles said he believed Otways farmers and landowners could help boost the region’s economy.
“Australia can do this kind of work already quite well and we can see that with Tasmanian poppy farmers,” Mr Miles said.
“We’ve already got the skills to do this kind of stuff and Otways farmers have already shown depth in producing really high-quality food and fibre, so I wouldn’t think this would be a threat,” he said.
“If we can have this kind of specialisation in the area then we’ll put ourselves on the front foot of a lot of agriculture research as well.
“And we could be like the Tassie farmers, but for this kind of medicine.”
A cultivation trial will begin at a Victorian research facility and the government will establish an independent medical advisory committee.
A Medical Cannabis office will open inside the Department of Health and Human Services.
But the State Government is still waiting on the agreement of the Federal Government which is a signatory to international rules covering the cultivation and manufacture of cannabis.
Mr Miles said it was difficult to say which farmers could grow the drug crop, but he believed smaller hobby farmers could be the biggest beneficiaries.
“We’re yet to see the regulations around it and I imagine they would be tight,” he said.
“The crop itself is not very complex and should a small farmer meet the regulations then this could be an ideal crop.
“The reputational thing could be huge and extremely positive.”
The Victorian Farmers Federation president Peter Tuohey said the organisation always welcomed new opportunities for farmers.
“VFF sees no difference between cannabis grown for medicinal purposes or poppies grown for medicinal purposes,” Mr Tuohey said.
“As long as there are stringent regulatory measures in place, there is no reason not to support the growing of a niche market; this could be an opportunity for farmers.”