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Cannabis Corp vows to stay in SA despite backer’s feud with Premier

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Australian Cannabis Corporation founder Ben Fitzsimons has vowed to keep the business in South Australia despite high-profile backer Shane Yeend threatening to take his investment overseas and sue the Premier for “verbal assault”.

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Speaking on radio this morning, Yeend accused Premier Jay Weatherill of verbally assaulting him “about a centimetre from my nose” at a Labor Party fundraiser late last year, and threatened to take his investments overseas.

Recalling the alleged confrontation on ABC Radio Adelaide this morning, Yeend said it was “like a Dr Jekyll, Mr Hyde deal: he turned into this tirade, about a centimetre from my nose … swearing”.

“… To be honest that’s not how a Premier should act in my books.”

Yeend added that he was “shitty” because the State Government had been slow to act on launching a medical cannabis industry in South Australia.

“I’m shitty ‘cause we don’t do shit,” he said.

“And I’m an entrepreneur who gets shit done.”

He said that more than a year after the Federal Government announced it would legalise medical cannabis around the country, “we still haven’t got anything, and you know what – we’re going to actually partner with the universities and move offshore”.

“I’ve got nothing to lose. I can go overseas any day of the week.”

Yeend also threatened to disrupt Weatherill’s future press conferences.

“Maybe, you know, we’ve all watched MTV – maybe we’ll go out and paint a van up and call it JTV and go and bloody storm his press conferences,” he said.

“YouTube now lets me run live channels. Maybe we’ll do that all year, not just take out ads but we’ll actually keep asking him the questions that people in South Australia want to know.”

But Weatherill told reporters at a press conference this morning he was not “concerned” by the threat.

Despite repeated questions, he refused to comment on the alleged incident at a Labor fundraiser in December.

“I’m not going to offer any commentary on Mr Yeend except to say that I think his conduct on radio today really speaks for itself,” Weatherill said.

Shane’s a big boy.

Fitzsimons told InDaily he had no intention of taking Australian Cannabis Corporation offshore.

“I wouldn’t say we’re intending to leave SA,” he said.

“Other governments have reached out to us [saying] if you are having challenges [in South Australia] come talk to us.

“[However] I believe this is an industry that could save South Australia.”

Fitzsimons said that was what the business “should be about and that’s what [I am] fighting for”.

Asked whether he was comfortable with Yeend’s comments, Fitzsimons told InDaily “Shane’s a big boy.”

“It’s good to see people with passion who want to see South Australia survive.

“He hasn’t left [South Australia] so far.”

Fitzsimons said he shared Yeend’s frustration at the “red tape and bureaucracy” that had hampered the progress of the business since it presented the idea of medical cannabis industry for South Australia to the State Government in 2015.

“Our frustration is we went to the State Government in 2015 an said ‘here’s an idea … how about you make sure that we’re the best in the world at this, or [at least] the best in Australia’,” Fitzsimons said.

He said the company was no longer negotiating with the State Government, but rather, waiting for the Government to unveil a “patient access scheme” to regulate how medical marijuana is distributed.

“We still have no patient access scheme,” he said.

“We could be writing a cheque out now to be buying the Holden plant and employing people [had the State Government moved faster].

“We’re kind of sitting on the sidelines at the moment, instead of [being] on the field.”

During the press conference, Weatherill insisted that: “We’re working constructively with the [Australian] Cannabis Corporation – Mr Fitzsimons in particular.”

“We’re working constructively with that corporation – not, of course with Mr Yeend,” he said. “As he’s demonstrated through his conduct, it’s very difficult to work with him.”

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