The Australian medical marijuana farm’s LED lights turn the night sky pink

The Australian medical marijuana farm’s LED lights turn the night sky pink

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A mysterious pink glow lit up the sky over the Australian city of Mildura on Wednesday night, leaving residents wondering if they were witnessing an alien invasion, misplaced northern lights or some kind of solar flare.

Local resident Tammy Szumowski and her family thought the world might be coming to an end. “I was just like ‘what the hell is that?’ It’s very bizarre, this huge pink light in the sky,” she said. “I’m trying not to freak out because I have my girls in the car.”

Others were looking for an explanation.

“I was driving home and it was dark and I noticed a very unusual, quite large pink glow,” said Anne Webster, a lawmaker who represents the area in Australia’s parliament. “I thought it was very strange. My first thought was that there must be a logical reason for this.”

In fact, the glow came from a medical cannabis plant on the outskirts of Mildura that inadvertently revealed its previously undisclosed location while testing out LED lights, which reflected off the cloudy night sky to create an eerie, supernatural scene that terrified and delighted the town’s 56,000 residents.

When plant security investigated the source of the hot pink light, he realized it was attracting attention around Mildura, which is about 540 miles northwest of Melbourne.

“He went out in the evening and noticed a glow and he noticed some vehicles pulling up to see where it was coming from,” Peter Crock, CEO of Cann Group, the cannabis research and production company behind the plant, told Australian. Broadcasting Corp.

The company typically uses blackout curtains to hide the red-spectrum LED lights used to encourage plant growth. But on Wednesday, the curtains were left open for a while, sending out a bat signal that was visible for miles around the facility, which is located in the southeastern state of Victoria.

In 2016, Australia legalized the cultivation, research and production of medical marijuana. Today, about 70,000 Australians are turning to medical marijuana to help, generating an estimated $160 million in revenue by 2021, according to Fresh Leaf Analytics, a cannabis market research company. Australians use medical marijuana primarily for pain, anxiety and sleep problems, according to a 2022 study published in the journal Frontiers of Pharmacology.

Prescriptions have increased over the past two years, which the study partly attributed to the “mental health burden” of Australia’s coronavirus containment restrictions. The country introduced one of the world’s strictest lockdowns before vaccinating 95 percent of the adult population.

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Cann Group was the first company licensed by Australia to conduct cannabis research. It received a $1.4 million grant from the state of Victoria, part of which was used to develop a commercial medical cannabis facility at a location that was undisclosed until this week’s lighting event. The Mildura plant, which was built on the site of a former juice factory, harvested its first batch earlier this month.

Mildura is known as a major grape producer, supplying wineries across the region. But the investment in cannabis production is new.

“It brings jobs, and this is just the tip of the iceberg because it has quite a future for growth,” said Webster, the lawmaker, who has toured the Cann facility.

“We’ve resumed normal transmission, but it definitely caught everyone’s attention in the meantime,” Crock, the Cann chief, said of Wednesday’s incident. “Any publicity is good publicity.”

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