A FAMILY business has been awarded nearly £700,000 to grow cannabis to make medicinal oil.
Hilltop Leaf Ltd was founded by William Ewart, his father, Neil, and Hamish Clegg.
It is expected that more than 50 jobs will be created, with various roles available.
South of Scotland Enterprise (SOSE) has announced it’s giving Hilltop £690,000 in capital investment towards the construction.
Hilltop is a private medicinal cannabis cultivation and extraction business which will provide an alternative, plant-based clinical treatment to synthetic pharmaceuticals.
It has been given planning permission by Dumfries and Galloway Council to build a secure, private medicinal cannabis cultivation and extraction business.
Neil Ewart, director and chairman, said: “SOSE has enabled us to push forward with our ambitious project, despite the current pandemic challenges.
“Construction work already underway for an 11,000 sqm factory to be built by the end of March.
“We have been incredibly lucky to have this support in addition to the tireless work from our diverse team which has come together to create this exciting business.
“We have plans to expand the Hilltop team with more external funding to provide more than 50 jobs in this area ranging from technical quality assurance roles to agricultural labour and wider operational support.”
Mr Clegg, director and chief executive officer, added: “Our SOSE investment has given us early risk capital and support to materially de-risk the project.
“This puts us in an excellent position to attract the necessary private investment to ensure the significant potential is realised for our growing list of stakeholders.
“We want to provide an affordable and widely-available solution to patients with a range of conditions from chronic pain to severe epilepsy, easing pressure on the NHS.
“We hope to rival other countries such as Canada, Germany and Israel where the medical cannabis industry is already well established.”
He added: “We have appointed a Qualified Person (QP) to join our board and lead a team in our talks with the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency and Home Office.
“The team continue to make progress putting together the necessary detailed quality management systems required by the regulators.”
Professor Russel Griggs, SOSE chairman, said: “We’re delighted to support Hilltop at its early growth stage of this pioneering medicinal business.
“This is an exciting project and offers a fantastic opportunity for Hilltop to help the rural economy of Dumfries and Galloway by creating jobs and supporting existing businesses.
“How we treat people matters to us and we want to ensure this runs through our region.
“As a living wage and fair work employer, Hilltop reflects these values.
“SOSE is here to establish southern Scotland as a centre of opportunity, innovation and growth and we’re delighted to support Hilltop on its journey.”
A spokesperson for the Langholm Alliance said: “Medical cannabis, while a matter of continued discussion and debate, is one of the UK’s fastest-expanding sectors.
“We warmly welcome both Hilltop’s commitment to create vital employment opportunities and SOSE’s backing of the company’s progressive vision within our community.”