A Kiwi medicinal cannabis company has struck an export partnership with a German distributor.
Rua Bioscience, based on the East Coast, said it has secured a deal with Nimbus Health, an independent pharmaceutical wholesaler which specialises in importing and distributing pharmaceutical-grade medicinal cannabis products in Germany.
Founded in 2016 as a subsidiary of Hikurangi Enterprises Ltd, Rua Bioscience describes itself as a global innovator in plant breeding and genetics. It has a team of more than 20 growers, scientists and engineers who are breeding, cultivating and processing cannabinoid-based plants to create clinically proven safe and effective medicines.
It was also the first company in New Zealand to be granted a licence to cultivate pharmaceutical-grade cannabis and the first to legally import high THC seeds in 2018.
Its plants have been used for ongoing research with Rua's local partners, including Callaghan Innovation, the University of Otago, University of Waikato, Victoria University of Wellington, Unitec Institute of Technology, ESR and Scion.
The company's export-led growth strategy under the Medicinal Cannabis Scheme became operational in April.
Rua Bioscience CEO, Rob Mitchell, said Germany is Europe's most mature medicinal cannabis market and he was proud to be the first company to announce a binding export agreement from there.
"We are aiming to fulfil the first exports under the partnership in the second half of 2021," he told the Herald.
"While at this time we are not in position to confirm specific quantities or the value of the agreement, it is likely to amount to a few hundred kilograms in the first year of operation to a few thousand kilograms within three years."
Mitchell also said the agreement means Rua Bioscience is Nimbus Health's exclusive New Zealand supplier.
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"We are creating unique cannabis medicines together to serve the patient base in Germany more efficiently," he said.
"This provides certainty for our production goals and signals international confidence in our ability to produce pharmaceutical-grade cannabis medicines."
Rua Bioscience chairman Trevor Burt said this partnership is a key milestone in progressing the company's global export strategy.
"The global medicinal cannabis market is estimated to be worth over one hundred billion by 2026 and with New Zealand being just a small fraction of that, it's crucial that we connect our cultivation expertise and good horticultural practices with experienced international suppliers who can distribute our product further afield.
"This export partnership expands on our established relationships with leading international cannabis researchers and ensures we are at the forefront of the global growth of our industry."
Rua Bioscience, he added, had a focus on expansion internationally, economic development and job creation in Tairāwhiti.
The founder and managing director of Nimbus Health, Linus Weber, said he was also excited about the deal.
"Our mission is to supply patients in Europe consistently with the highest grade of medical cannabis products from reliable sources in a sustainable manner – and Rua is well positioned to help us achieve this goal."
Nimbus Health, which has warehouses near Frankfurt, currently supplies pharmacies serving over a quarter of the 75,000 ongoing patients using medicinal cannabis in Germany.
New Zealanders will vote in September on a non-binding referendum over whether the recreational use of cannabis should become legal, based on the proposed Cannabis Legalisation and Control Bill.