Tom is a cannabis horticulture specialist working with several Australian cannabis firms, universities and research groups.
How did you first get involved with medicinal cannabis?
In 2011, my mother was forced to undergo a course of medication with extremely horrible side effects. I often visited her home in Mt. White on the Central Coast of NSW to take care of her. Sometimes she was unable to even get out of bed. It was here that I first noticed that vaporising or smoking cannabis drastically helped with her nausea, appetite, energy and overall mood. She was fortunate that one of the neighbours had experience with medical cannabis and was growing a small organic crop that could provide her with flowers and tinctures.
The initial medication courses that Mum trialled were unsuccessful and we had both moved to Melbourne to be closer to family. There were months on end when I would watch her bravely battling with horrible side effects and only finding relief through ‘black-market’ cannabis of varying qualities. It was astounding that she could be prescribed such a brutal ‘medicine’ yet not have any access to any form of proven relief during these tough months. I’m happy to report that the most recent course of medication was successful and Mum continues to happily potter around the garden!
My mother has always inspired me with her passion for gardening and her natural green thumb. We’ve lived in average houses, but always had beautiful gardens. While living on the Mornington Peninsula a close friend introduced me to aquaponics. I found myself spending hours in the garden with Mum building giant veggie beds, hydroponic systems and fishtanks! It was at this time that I quit my job, found work in the hydroponics industry, and enrolled in the first of my horticulture courses. This blissful garden enthusiasm and Mums ongoing bravery has inspired and motivated me to become involved in the medical cannabis space.
What most excites you about the work you’re currently doing?
I spent my childhood in the heart of cotton country in Moree, NSW and witnessed one of the worst droughts of this century. It was heart-breaking to see the town crumbling into poverty. My father still works in rural agri-business and our family had always been involved in Australian agriculture. I personally believe we now have a fantastic opportunity to provide new industries to struggling farming sectors. Our strong history of innovative farming and unique resources provides an incredible foundation for a strong cannabis industry in Australia.
I’m proud to help patients access a quality grown medical plant that can contribute to so many aspects of society. From broadacre hemp farming for industrial purposes, to advanced medical cannabis research at laboratory facilities; we are in a unique position to set unprecedented cultivation standards that are sustainable and economical, and with modern technology we can also achieve unparalleled efficiency in plant growth.
This continual development of a rapidly blooming industry is truly exciting, and I can’t wait to see some of the innovations that Australia can produce for the cannabis space.
What are participants going to get out of your session?
In my session I will explain relevant cannabis botanical features regarding their growth patterns and breeding, discuss different stages of plant development, alongside common harvest and production methods. We will also explore cannabis nutrition, facility design and horticultural lighting, environmental control, production systems and organic interactions.
I’ll be bringing a variety of horticultural technology and examples of equipment for participants to experience, including the latest digital lighting, fertilisers and water control technology. I hope at the end of my session students will have a comprehensive understanding of cultivating the cannabis plant in a variety of methods, and the relevant botanical requirements for successful growth. Whether they are looking for work in the industry, to setup a facility or to expand their own personal gardening skills, I truly believe this session will be beneficial.