The Government is backing a research and development programme to help accelerate the establishment of New Zealand's medicinal cannabis industry and boost export potential.
The Sustainable Food and Fibre Futures fund (SFF Futures) is contributing nearly $760,000 to the $1.9 million, three-year programme led by project partner Greenlab, which aims to establish evidence-based medical cannabis cultivation practices.
Agriculture Minister Damien O'Connor made the announcement yesterday.
New Zealand's primary industry was built on excellence in applied science, he said in a statement.
"This investment will see Greenlab's researchers carrying out rigorous trials and lab testing at its leased facilities at Lincoln University to ensure a consistently high-quality and effective pharmaceutical product."
Since medicinal cannabis had only been legal in New Zealand since 2020, there was a lack of available scientific information about how to best cultivate therapeutically active compounds, O'Connor said.
Greenlab aims to generate standard cultivation protocols for a range of New Zealand genetics with the optimised pharmaceutical compounds required by doctors and needed by patients to improve their quality of life.
"The aim is to establish sustainable and efficient New Zealand-based medical cultivation practices – with the end goal of sharing the findings with other licensed Kiwi growers," O'Connor said.
"This funding will ensure these growers have access to essential industry knowledge and insights much further and faster than would have otherwise been possible."
There are currently 37 medicinal cannabis cultivation licences issued by the Ministry of Health.
Less than 50 hectares were planted in medicinal cannabis and the current domestic market was supplied almost completely by imports, at around 1800 prescriptions per month, O'Connor said.
"A successful medicinal cannabis industry will earn significant export revenue, provide jobs, and produce locally-grown pharmaceutical options for patients."