Medicinal cannabis coup
East Coast growers attract world attention.
BURLY and bearded, Ted Daniels did 15 years in law enforcement before joining the US Army and being deployed to Afghanistan, and then founding the United States' National Cannabis Security Services.
Now, a New Zealand operation is looking for the “Ted Daniels of New Zealand” to help protect their decidedly unconventional crop . . . medicinal cannabis.
Hikurangi Group business development manager, Manu Caddie, says the collective will need highstandard security services as it barrels towards taking its small, East Coast hemp-growing operation into the big time.
It will be a first for New Zealand, but contracting such target security services is just one of the Kiwi group's initiatives.
As well as growing its product and making sure the science is right, it is also chin-deep in international business deals and creating windows of opportunity for investors.
And all this while ensuring it brings benefit to the Ruatoria community in which it is founded.
Just shy of a year after the harvest of the first Ministry of Health-sanctioned hemp crop in Ruatoria, Hikurangi Cannabis Company in February signed a Letter Of Intent with Seattle-based Rhizo Sciences to produce 3,000 kilograms of pharmaceutical-grade cannabis products next year, rising to 12,000kg by 2021.
The conditional offer is subject to the law change expected to pass in New Zealand later this year and Caddie says Hikurangi Group is pushing hard to see that happen. And it appears to have the ear of the government... on an uncharacteristically rainy earlyFebruary day, they hosted a team of scientists from AgResearch, along with officials from the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment.
“The Rhizo deal includes CBD (Cannabidiol) extracts, whole flowers and THC (Tetrahydrocannabinol) extracts, but will only be finalised once New Zealand establishes a scheme for the commercial production of medical cannabis products later this year,” he says.
“Our submission to the select committee in March will press home the importance of allowing medical cannabis to be exported as this is the key to ensuring we can offer affordable local medicines by funding the infrastructure and compliance costs through wholesale and finished product exports.” The Letter Of Intent represents some big numbers . . . US$119 million (NZ$160m) worth of product being grown on the East Coast over the next four years.
As managing director of Hikurangi Cannabis – which works in partnership with the charitable trust-owned Hikurangi Enterprises - Caddie says the deal is a lifeline for a region that has few high value products and unemployment levels well above the national average.
“We are very excited about the impact of this new industry for our communities on the Coast and for New Zealand as a whole,” he says.
“Thanks to the good work of other primary industries, New Zealand has a great reputation internationally for high quality food and natural health products. We have leveraged this reputation with international customers in the European Union, Canada and Australia who want to access the highest quality medical cannabis products in the world.”
Perhaps nobody knows the market better than Rhizo – a global cannabis consulting and brokerage company – and co-founder/vice-president Dallas McMillan says New Zealand could be a leading producer in the high-CBD hemp industry.