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Māori Company Granted New Zealand’s First Medicinal Cannabis Licence

1,500 New Zealanders have invested in the grassroots business.
Image Tess McClure.

Māori undeniably bear the brunt of cannabis’ illegality. A Corrections report in 2007 revealed that on the basis of equivalent usage of cannabis, Māori users were arrested at three times the rate of non-Māori. It’s hard to say if this will ever change, but medicinal cannabis, at least, might help better the lives of Māori, and not just those who are unwell.

Hikurangi Cannabis has become the first New Zealand company to secure a Ministry of Health licence to cultivate cannabis plants for medicinal use. Located near the small impoverished East Coast town of Ruatoria, the company will bring jobs and increased opportunities to the majority-Māori rural community.

More than 1500 local families and other New Zealanders have invested $2.5 million into the project, which funded the foundation as it negotiated larger investments.

Co-founder and interim CEO Manu Caddie says finally being able to execute a pharmaceutical industry in Ruatoria is the fulfilment of a community goal and significant milestone. “We are excited to be able to base this new industry in our community, a rural region that desperately needs new economic development opportunities. Without the strong local support believing in this goal it would not have been possible,” says Caddie.

Hikurangi plans to get growing quickly in order to meet both domestic and global demand for pharmaceutical-grade cannabis products. While the high-tech greenhouses and processing facilities are being built, the company will import more affordable products to help those in need sooner.