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Hikurangi Enterprises nabs New Zealand’s first medical cannabis license

Hikurangi Enterprises nabs New Zealand’s first medical cannabis license

The medical cannabis industry in New Zealand has taken another tentative step forward, with the first research license granted to Ruatoria-based social enterprise Hikurangi Enterprises. The company says it will now begin building high-tech greenhouses and processing facilities to breed cannabis strains and start conducting trials into New Zealand made medical cannabis products.

Hikurangi being granted this license means the business can now access the funds it raised over the past six months from New Zealand investors, four months after submitting paperwork to regulators for review.

Co-founder Manu Caddie says a further $2.5 million invested by over 1500 local families and other New Zealanders through crowdfunding platform PledgeMe was what provided the foundation for negotiations with investors keen to bring larger investments into the business.

Caddie says securing the license is a significant milestone for the business and for the local community.  

“We are excited to be able to base this new industry in our community, a rural region that desperately needs new economic development opportunities,” he says.

“Without the strong local support believing in this goal it would not have been possible.”

  • Read our profile on Hikurangi from earlier this year here.

Ruatoria, where the company is based, is one of New Zealand’s poorest regions, holding a population size of 750 people and some of the highest unemployment rates in the country.

The idea for Hikurangi Enterprises was born as a means of generating economic development, raising household incomes and creating job opportunities for the area. And judging by the sheer amount of money invested into the business by locals, they were all for the idea.

Hikurangi gave first dibs on investing in its company to the local community, and a town holding a median income of $17,000 mustered more than $1.4 million to put into the company. When other New Zealanders was included to invest, the crowdfunding campaign reached the $2 million PledgeMe cap in just 16 minutes.

The company has already launched into action and commissioned clinical trials to begin next year for its products, in order to quickly meet domestic and global demand.

Much of what’s going on behind the scenes in such a burgeoning industry is hush hush, but Hikurangi says it’s in discussions with a large US medical cannabis company interested in collaborating with Hikurangi on global brand development and clinical trials, while it’s also working with one of the largest private medical research organisations in the world.

It also has a conditional agreement in place to supply a Seattle-based company, 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” Caddie says.

“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.”

In terms of where regulation is at, the Government’s Medical Cannabis Bill is being finalised following its Select Committee process and looks likely to have its second reading next month.

Caddie says he thinks legislation will pass its final reading by October, with domestic industry regulations set within six months to ensure patients can get access to safe and affordable medical cannabis products as soon as possible.

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