Hikurangi Cannabis has become the first New Zealand company to secure a license to cultivate medicinal cannabis plants.
The license issued by the Ministry of Health enables Hikurangi to breed cannabis strains that can eventually be used in medicines.
Hikurangi has secured significant investment and will now start building high tech greenhouses and processing facilities near Ruatoria on the East Coast. Hikurangi has commissioned clinical trials to start next year for the first New Zealand made cannabis medicines.
Obtaining the license triggers a series of transactions for the company to access funds raised over the past six months from New Zealand investors.
Co-founder and interim CEO Manu Caddie said it was a great feeling to receive the license after submitting the paperwork to the regulators in April.
“Being able to execute our business and community goal of building a pharmaceuticals industry at Ruatoria is a significant milestone for us all.”
“We are excited to be able to base this new industry in our community, a rural region that desperately needs new economic development opportunities. Without the strong local support believing in this goal it would not have been possible.”
Mr Caddie said $2.5 million invested by over 1500 local families and other New Zealanders provided the foundation for negotiations with institutional investors keen to bring larger investments to the business.
Hikurangi plans to scale operations quickly to meet both domestic and global demand for pharmaceutical grade cannabis products. The company is in discussions with a large US medical cannabis company interested in collaborating with Hikurangi on clinical trials and global brand development. Hikurangi is also working with one of the largest private medical research organisations in the world. The researchers are interested in assisting Hikurangi with clinical trials for new cannabis-based medicines.
Global demand for medical cannabis is at an all time high and Hikurangi has a conditional agreement to supply Seattle based Rhizo Sciences with $160 million worth of products over the next three years.
“We’re aiming to providing safe and affordable medical cannabis products to New Zealanders next year” said Mr Caddie. “Exports allow us to build the infrastructure to produce affordable medicines made to Ministry of Health standards. It is encouraging to hear the politicians and officials supporting the need to get New Zealand made medicines to New Zealanders as quickly as possible.”
The government’s medicinal cannabis bill is currently being finalised following the Select Committee process and it is likely to have its second reading next month. Mr Caddie said he expects the legislation to pass its final reading by October and the domestic industry needs regulations set within six months to ensure it can get local products to patients who need safe and affordable products right now.
While the Ruatoria facilities are being built, Hikurangi is planning to import more affordable products so they are available to people who need them sooner.
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