A new Auckland advertisement tips medicinal cannabis sales to be the next hot thing and has urged mum and dad investors to put their money behind the product.
Greenfern Medicinal Marijuana today put up billboards across Auckland, Tauranga, Hamilton and Christchurch, likening the future sale of medicinal cannabis to striking gold or oil.
"We've struck oil in Taranaki. Want to invest?", the billboards read.
It comes as competition starts to heat up between a series of start-up companies hoping to grow and sell cannabis now that a Government Bill has passed opening the way for the plant's processing in New Zealand once regulations are in place.
Greenfern plans to grow cannabis in Taranaki and has so far raised about $600,000 through a crowdfunding campaign finishing at the end of the month. It hopes to raise as much as $2 million.
Director Dan Casey said cannabis sales were already taking off overseas in places, such as Canada and California.
"People are predicting it will boom," he said.
"You can liken it to the gold rush back in the 1800s - it's somewhat of a green rush at the moment.
The company's website said pundits expected the medicinal marijuana products to explode across the globe and become a more than US$55.8 billion (NZ$82.7 billion) industry by 2025.
It comes as East Coast-based Hikurangi Cannabis - the first company to be granted a medicinal cannabis licence - was this week granted further permission to grow 16 new varieties of cannabis.
The Ministry of Health's amendment to Hikurangi's licence included permission to grow some of the first high-THC strains to be imported under new biosecurity rules.
The new range of plants included five varieties with high levels of THC - the main psychoactive compound in cannabis - four high CBD, high-THC varieties and seven low-THC strains.
Hikurangi managing director Manu Caddie said it was important to have plants with diverse genetics for "research and breeding efforts".
Another start-up called Helius Therapeutics - which was bought into by rich-lister Guy Haddleton - last month became the first cannabis company to advertise in New Zealand when its "Cannabis is medicine" campaign splashed across Auckland's billboards.
Helius executive director Paul Manning said at the time the campaign would feature eight Kiwi patients, parents and advocates in support of cannabis.
"We want to highlight that it will be mainstream people who will use medicinal cannabis, which will soon become a very mainstream product," he said.
Greenfern's Casey also said his company aimed to create awareness and "break down the stigma of the cannabis plant and get it out there in the mainstream where it can help people".
"Right now I think there are two products available in NZ and they are both from overseas and they are very expensive," he said.
Growing the product locally could reduce costs and eventually lead the Government to subsidise the product for its medical benefits, he said.
Greenfern had a point of difference because it was located near the Normanby hydro power station and would be able to supply its growing fields with renewable energy at a discount rate, Casey said.
The purpose of raising money through crowdfunding was to give mum and dad investors the chance to invest in the company, he said.
He hoped Greenfern would have its growing and extraction facilities in operation by the end of the year and the closer it got to its $2 million target, the quicker this could be achieved.