A Canadian biotechnology company has expressed an aim to cultivate medical marijuana in a former copper mine in Michigan's Upper Peninsula. The company has been growing other types of plants in the mine for more than a decade.
The company, Prairie Plant Systems Inc., has a contract to supply medical marijuana in Canada. Due to a growth in demand for marijuana for medical purposes, the company wants to grow marijuana within the US. The mine is currently used for plant-based pharmaceutical research.
Medical cannabis is illegal in most countries. A number of governments, including the U.S. Federal Government, allow treatment with one or more specific low doses of synthetic cannabinoids for one or more disorders. Among these are: the amelioration of nausea and vomiting, stimulation of hunger in chemotherapy and AIDS patients, lowered eye pressure (shown to be effective for treating glaucoma), as well as gastrointestinal illness.
The reason for considering growing marijuana underground is because such an environment provides security, temperature, light and humidity control. It also protects the plants from diseases.
According to the Detroit Free Press, to cultivate marijuana, the company would require approval from state and federal officials to convert the mine in White Pine. Approval would additionally require the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to change their stances about the use of medical marijuana.
Michigan approved the use of medical marijuana in 2008. However, there is no authorized producer within the state.
On the website Canadian Business, Brent Zettl, the company's president and CEO is stated as saying "There's a need to bring this under the proper reins of appropriate manufacturing for patient safety and for public safety".
Prairie Plant Systems have said that they would need to introduce strict security and make it clear to employees and customers that marijuana is to be treated as a pharmaceutical product.
The opposition to the plan is more economic than cultural, as CTV reports. Other parties argue that the Ontonagon County should reopen the mines again for copper production, given that the price of copper has risen in recent years.