A Christchurch company is hoping to obtain Ministry of Health approval soon to start cultivating cannabis for medical and scientific use and is urging farmers to get involved.

Co-founder and managing director of Long White Cloud Genetics Aaron Hill said he had been approached by local landowners interested in learning more about the medicinal cannabis industry.

''With more and more opportunities opening for farmers who typically rely on meat and dairy, it's something they could seriously investigate if they have interest.''

Hill said the company intended to buy land, probably in the Lincoln area, to grow and manufacture the drug.


''We're looking to acquire a decent farm and do an outdoor hemp crop.''

A high-tech indoor cultivation facility was also being designed which, when completed, could employ up to 50 staff.

Last December, the Government passed its medicinal cannabis Bill, allowing terminally ill people to possess and use illicit cannabis and to possess a cannabis utensil.

The Bill made provision also for a licensed medicinal cannabis scheme for the manufacture, importing, and supply of the drug while cannabidiol (CBD) and CBD products were no longer classed as controlled drugs.

Pharmacies would also be able to sell regulated marijuana products.

When the Bill was passed, National leader Simon Bridges said it was decriminalisation of cannabis by stealth.

The scheme was expected to start within a year of the law taking effect, and commercial licences for manufacturers to be issued early in 2020, but Hill said,''they seem to be a bit behind the initial plan.''

Last week the Ministry of Health published the proposed regulations and standards for medicinal cannabis, covering everything from cultivation to quality standards. Public consultation is open until Wednesday, August 7.


The scheme's regulations will be finalised by December 18 and the Ministry of Health expected to have the whole operational in the first quarter of 2020.

Hill manages a Christchurch company, Southern Alp Meats, which processes and exports wild venison, goat and alpine tahr.

''My co-founder John Macdonald operates and owns a medical deer velvet export operation and we thought we'd transfer our skills to the medicinal cannabis industry.''

The company has held discussions with an overseas company to form a partnership.

''The contract will be worth over $20 million annually. We don't want to announce too much at this stage but the company is based in Washington and it has helped Hikurangi.''

Ruatoria-based Hikurangi Cannabis Company is the first New Zealand company to hold a medicinal cannabis cultivation licence.

Earlier this year the company received government approval to grow 16 new varieties of cannabis and to import some of the first strains of high-THC strains of cannabis into New Zealand under changed biosecurity rules.