Kiwifruit and avocados thrive in the Bay of Plenty's sublime climate, so why shouldn't the region take advantage of any future medicinal cannabis growing opportunities?
The Ministry of Health is currently looking at reforms under its Medicinal Cannabis Scheme that has already been out for public consultation.
One of the discussions up for debate is the proposed requirements for domestic cultivation of cannabis for medicinal purposes and manufacture of medicinal cannabis products. Regulations are expected to be made by December 18 with the scheme becoming operational in the first quarter of 2020.
So that could be good news for Greenfield MC NZ Research and Tauranga-based firm Wepiha Health, who want to set up a medicinal cannabis cultivation facility in the city.
Read more: Medicinal cannabis venture eyes up Tauranga
I think it's a great idea and the economic benefits could be huge, not to mention hopefully cheaper access for patients who want to use medicinal cannabis - which in its spray form can cost more than $1100 for a seven-week prescription.
The project mooted for Tauranga is headed by Dr Anna Rolleston will initially focus on research, growing specific strains of cannabis and health benefits, but the scope is much bigger than that.
The organisations are estimating if they get the green light, once scaled for commercial opportunities it could employ about 250 people and grow thousands of kilograms of cannabis per annum.
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In my view, we are behind the eight-ball on this concept as illegal recreational cannabis use continues to overshadow the plant's legal medicinal purposes and why shouldn't approved businesses be able to tap into that?
Yes, laws will have to change, yes it will have to be regulated, yes it may be sold on the black market and in some cases abused but that is already happening with a lot of prescription drugs. That is a sad reality.
But for the likes of Aimee Harborne who lives with Crohn's disease, it could offer hope and she supports the reforms which in her own words had the potential to change her life.