This article originally appeared on VICE New Zealand
A New Zealand cannabis company has been given the green light to cultivate some of the highest-THC strains to be imported into the country so far. Based in Ruatoria on the East Coast, Hikurangi Enterprises was one of the first local companies to be granted a licence for medical cannabis last year. The Ministry of Health has now amended that licence, allowing the company to grow 16 new varieties of cannabis, including much stronger strains.
Managing director of Hikurangi Manu Caddie said the extended license would benefit producers. “We are very pleased to receive this expanded list of cultivars for our research and breeding efforts,” said Caddie. “As we breed the particular plants that Hikurangi medicines are derived from, our plant scientists are saying diverse genetics is really important.”
The new range of plants includes five varieties with high levels of THC, the main psychoactive compound found in cannabis, four strains high in both CBD and THC, and an additional seven low-THC varieties.
Up until last month, the Ministry of Primary Industries (MPI) had blocked the importation of high-THC cannabis seeds because the strict biosecurity rules permitted only low-THC varieties to enter the country. But after negotiations between Hikurangi and officials from the Ministry of Health and MPI, the updated regulations now acknowledge there is no scientific basis to prohibit high-THC strains because strength of the strain has no bearing on the diseases a plant might carry.