Red Lamps Glow Expose Secret Farm in Australia

Stephen Andrews
24 Jul 2022

Last Wednesday, an eerie pink glow lit up the evening sky above the Australian town of Mildura in Northern Victoria. Those who witnessed the scene thought the world was coming to an end. Or that perhaps Vecna from Stranger Things is opening a crack between the worlds. The real reason the sky glimmered in pink that evening? The light emanated from the ground or from what turned out to be a secret cannabis farm. Which apparently is no longer a secret.

While Australia legalized medicinal cannabis back in 2016, the plant's recreational use remains prohibited under law. Nevertheless, cannabis has been in demand in the Land Down Under.

Data from the Department of Health shows that the most common reason for cannabis prescriptions among Aussies is chronic pain, followed by anxiety and sleep disorders. The number of prescription drugs has doubled since 2019, however, illicit possession charges remain high. It's just slightly over 71,000 Australians who have been prosecuted for marijuana-related crimes between 2018 and 2019 alone. 

Legal cultivation of cannabis is strictly related to the work of top secret growing facilities, just like the one outed on Wednesday, July 20, in the region of Victoria. Australia has several medical cannabis factories, but their locations are usually kept secret for security reasons.

"I was just being a cool, calm mum, telling the kids: 'There's nothing to worry about," one witness told the BBC. 

"All these end of the world scenarios were going through my head," another woman who saw the red glow said. "I was having a big Stranger Things moment - I'm like, Vecna? Is that you?" she said, thinking of the villain from the TV series' latest season.

But little did any of the witnesses know the reddish-tinged lights were purposed for cultivation of crops at a medical marijuana facility. Red wavelengths in particular helps enhance photosynthesis. 

The manufacturer in question was Cann Group. The company produces medicines such as sleeping pills for the Australian market. 

Blackout blinds would usually obscure the lights, however, it happened that this part of the equipment at the facility didn't work on Wednesday. 

According to Peter Crock, CEO of Cann Group, the Mildura grow facility is a relatively new one, with operations having started only earlier this year. Lights are typically turned off at sundown, but they were left on due to testing new equipment, Crock said. 

"Normally, the blackout blinds close at the same time as the sun sets, but last night we had the lights on and the blinds hadn't yet closed, so there was a period where it created a glow," Crock said.

When the news broke among locals this was a cannabis farm in question, the uncanny feeling was quickly replaced with laughter. "I reckon it was great - they should do it more often," one comment goes. 

According to a recent survey, Australians are now more approving of cannabis consumption than tobacco use. The first such observation ever. Whether this might signal anything, the country may be ripe to distance itself from secretive practices and penalizing possession, and could certainly take more significant steps towards legalization. 

Stephen Andrews