Thursday, April 25, 2024

Govt to fast-track medicinal cannabis growth

The Government has partnered with the country’s largest and only organic certified medicinal cannabis grower to accelerate the growth of the industry.

“Now is the perfect time to grow this high-value industry, as international demand for medicinal cannabis takes off while New Zealand is amid an export boom,” Agriculture Minister, Damien O’Connor said.

“The $32.2 million joint project will further support the country’s economic recovery from COVID-19, providing jobs and growth in our regional economies.”

The project will run from 2022 to 2027, with the Government contributing $13 million through the Ministry for Primary Industries’ Sustainable Food and Fibre Futures fund, to help Marlborough-based company Puro Ltd fast-track the establishment of an organic medical cannabis industry in New Zealand.

Matatihi Economic Research has calculated that the project’s potential economic benefit to New Zealand could be up to $236 million by 2032.

Founded in 2018, Puro harvested its first crop of medical cannabis last year. The company is New Zealand’s largest medical cannabis grower, with the only organic certification in Australasia.

(Photo: Puro Ltd).

“This project will bring significant scale to this new industry, providing domestically sourced medicinal cannabis for Kiwi patients in pain and exciting export opportunities in a global growth market, providing further diversification of land use and export opportunities,” the Minister said.

“Puro will develop unique cultivars and seed stock, as well as a production handbook that will be available to the wider industry. This will fast-track the industry’s establishment in New Zealand and create a comprehensive blueprint that other Kiwi companies can use to follow in Puro’s footsteps.

“We expect this funding to create significant job opportunities in rural communities, boosting local economies in Marlborough and Kāikoura over the five years. There will be professional jobs in research and development, cultivation, business development, construction and facilities management, which could attract more people to the regions.

“We’re proud to support the medicinal cannabis industry as it sets out to follow in the footsteps of our wine industry which, from first planting on commercial scale in the 1970s, has now reached over $2 billion in export value,” Mr O’Connor said.

The global medical cannabis market is valued at $28 billion and is growing at 27 per cent annually.

Puro Managing director, Tim Aldridge says the grant is a “game-changer” that will provide New Zealand patients with greater access to locally grown and manufactured medicine and pave the way for international export success.

“Being one of New Zealand’s first medicinal cannabis companies has meant we’ve had to overcome some major challenges – it hasn’t been easy. This programme will see us create an organic production handbook that will be invaluable for Puro and our industry,” he said.

“The grant will also support Puro in developing post-harvesting processing technology and build the IP required to produce premium organic cannabis flower to meet increasing domestic and global demand.”

Mr Aldridge says the funding will enable Puro to develop unique cultivars and seed stock for the New Zealand industry.

“Our cultivation team are researching and developing the strains of medicinal cannabis best suited for New Zealand’s unique climate. The grant will see the acceleration of a large genetic database of cultivars to support the New Zealand industry and differentiate our cannabis products in global markets,” he said.

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