British Sugar has signed a long-term deal with GW Pharmaceuticals to grow non-psychoactive, CBD-rich cannabis plants in an 18-hectacre facility currently used to cultivate tomatoes, according to a report from the Telegraph. The plants will be used for the manufacture of GW’s childhood epilepsy treatment Epidiolex.
Paul Kenward, managing director of British Sugar, said that every year the company tries to work out the “best commercial assets” for the greenhouse, noting that it is “very well suited” for growing the specific strain used in the creation of Epidiolex and that the “return will be better than on tomatoes.”
“We had always been interested in looking at pharmaceutical crops but never quite found the right partner,” he said in the report. “We recently did in GW.”
According to Kenward, sugar production produces electricity, heat, steam and fertilizer — all required for growing cannabis plants and available from a nearby British Sugar factory.
The plants should provide enough raw materials to treat 40,000 children per year globally. The first seeds are expected to be planted in January and harvested in April.
GW plans on filing the drug with the Food and Drug Administration in early 2017. Justin Gover, GW chief executive, indicated that if it is approved by U.S. regulators, Epidilox could be available in the states by the end of next year.