Irvine could become home to Scotland’s first legal medical cannabis farm.

Australian firm LeafCann has held talks with council chiefs about potentially building a facility in the town.

The council confirmed it has held talks with the company, which recently obtained a licence to produce cannabis, but no plans are close to being agreed.

This comes after Home Secretary Sajid Javid legalised cannabis-based medicines last year with doctors able to give out products most commonly used to treat epilepsy and chronic pain.

Council leader Joe Cullinane said: “Medicinal cannabis can be very effective in easing the effects of epilepsy and chronic pain. The fact it has only just been legalised means that the UK is currently importing all cannabis based medicines so this could provide a local supply chain for our NHS.

“Discussions are at an early stage between the firm and the council but it could be a boost to the local economy, creating much needed jobs if it comes to something.”

Central Ayrshire MP Dr Philippa Whitford welcomed the potential move but said the government must do more to prepare for the drug’s use.

She said: “Last year, In response to a demand from families of children with uncontrollable epilepsy, the Home Office changed the Drug Schedule to remove Medical Cannabis from Schedule 1, which lists the drugs that cannot be lawfully possessed or prescribed in the UK. However, they failed to give any thought as to how the treatment would be provided to patients and, despite the change in legislation, no new NHS prescriptions for the type of medical cannabis used to treat children with this condition have been issued. There is a need for a range of high quality pharmaceutical grade medicinal cannabis to be made available in the UK with varying ratios of the active ingredients, CBD, and THC, the latter of which has the psychoactive effects. If this can be done from a licensed facility here in Irvine then, of course, I would welcome such a development both in terms of medical innovation and the economic benefits it would bring to the area.

“As it stands, doctors in the UK have no significant expertise in using cannabis therapeutically, due to its previous illegal status, and I have previously called on the UK Health Secretary, Matt Hancock, to develop a number of centres of excellence looking at how these compounds should be used to treat a range of conditions from epilepsy to chronic pain.”

A council spokesperson said: “We are aware of interest from LeafCann and we’ve had initial discussions with them. There is nothing imminent or close to being agreed.”

LeafCann were approached for comment but were unable to speak about UK site plans ahead of any agreement.

The firm describes itself online as a medical cannabis seed to sale company. Our primary focus will be to provide high quality, organic cannabis products to patients.

In May, LeafCann Group Pty Ltd announced that a subsidiary had been granted a licence to manufacture medicinal cannabis by the Australian Office of Drug Control.

Chief executive

Elisabetta Faenza said at the time: “After several years of company development,I am delighted that LeafCann can now begin in earnest to execute our business plan towards delivering medicinal cannabis products to the many patients whose conditions are not treated effectively by existing pharmaceuticals, and whose quality of life could be substantially improved.”

Leafcann Group’s chief scientist, DrJaroslav Boublik, added: “Ourteam is focused on delivering the highestquality product, focusing on high-tech indoorfacilities.”