Two of New Zealand's medicinal cannabis sector leaders have signed what they call a "landmark agreement" to work together.
Kāriki Pharma, which focuses on the research and development of cannabis pharmaceuticals, and Puro New Zealand, a Marlborough-based medical cannabis grower, announced a memorandum of understanding today.
Kāriki Pharma CEO, Steve Wilson, said the deal with Puro will enable the companies to be a world leader in the manufacture of medicinal cannabis products.
"For us, it's important to be able to purchase high-quality [cannabis] flower from the best guys in the business, and we think that in New Zealand, that will be Puro," he said.
"They have the expertise, they have amazing growing sites, and they're our kind of people. Puro can grow exactly what we need."
Puro managing director Tim Aldridge was also excited about the partnership with Kāriki Pharma, which was one of the first New Zealand companies to obtain Ministry of Health approval to grow medicinal cannabis in New Zealand after being established in 2018.
"We've always been clear that our focus is growing the world's best medicinal cannabis – this partnership will guarantee Puro's premium medicinal cannabis is manufactured into premium pharmaceuticals."
Puro, also established in 2018, is set to become New Zealand's largest medical cannabis cultivator. It has growing sites in Waihopai Valley, Kaikōura, Marlborough and Kekerengu.
Wilson said Kāriki Pharma will create a wide range of medicinal cannabis products to the highest globally recognised standards, and already has supply agreements in place with international buyers.
The company already focuses on creating a products for New Zealand, Australian, Asian, and European patients and export markets.
"Working with a company like Puro that has the same goals as us is a win-win. Our collaboration means we can each focus on our areas of expertise and push the envelope to build a range of the world's best premium medicinal cannabis," Wilson said.
He added the deal with Puro, which has growing sites at Waihopai and along the Kaikoura Coast at Kekerengu, will see the opportunity to make vast leaps in developing products.
"It's not very often you get to be involved in the birth of a new game-changing industry for New Zealand and the world," Wilson said.
Meanwhile, New Zealanders will now vote at the rescheduled October 17 election on a non-binding referendum over whether the recreational use of cannabis should become legal, based on the proposed Cannabis Legalisation and Control Bill.
However, a majority "yes" vote wouldn't necessarily lead to personal use being legalised if National - which opposes legalising for recreational use - was in power after the election.
The party's drug reform spokesman Nick Smith has said the party would abide by a "yes" vote by introducing the Government's Cannabis Legalisation and Control Bill, which outlines the proposed regulatory framework for a legal market.
But whether National would then support the bill to become law would depend on the select committee process following the bill's first reading.
Act leader David Seymour said his party had the same position as National on the referendum.
"We would certainly honour the referendum result at first reading, but we also believe in honouring the select committee process, so we would review after that," he has said.
Prime Minister and Labour leader Jacinda Ardern, meanwhile, has said she won't reveal how she would personally vote in the referendum.