29 Oct 2021

Govt funding to speed up medicinal cannabis industry

4:08 pm on 29 October 2021

The government is putting $760,000 into a joint research programme to speed up the establishment of a medicinal cannabis industry here.

Medical marijuana buds spilling out of prescription bottle with branded lid onto blank medical prescription pad on green background

Medicinal cannabis has only been legal in New Zealand since 2020 Photo: 123 RF

The funding will go to a $1.9 million dollar, three-year programme led by a Lincoln based project partner Greenlab.

Medicinal cannabis has only been legal in New Zealand since 2020, and there is little information about how to grow the crop here to achieve the best therapeutically active compounds.

Greenlab research and commercialisation director Parmjit Randhawa said the aim is to come up with cultivation guides to standardise growing the different New Zealand genetics.

"Which is currently a very challenging thing for the licencesed growers to know what they are growing, or targetting their growing for the plant.

"Like this plant is producing medicine so definitely there will be more stringent paramenters than growing other plants like a tomato plant. Here what we will be doing at Lincoln University is we will be growing them under defined conditions to produce those targetted medicinal compounds consistently", he said.

Randhawa said they will grow four or five crops a year, so within 14 months will have initital results from the three year project.

Fewer than 50 hectares is currently planted in medicinal cannabis with 37 cultivation licences. Most of the domestic market is supplied by imports.

Greenlab was founded in 2019, and was one of New Zealand's first South Island companies to secure a medicinal cannabis research and development (R&D) licence.

It is based at a purpose-built laboratory at Lincoln University.

Greenlab has a commercial cultivation licence and an R&D licence from the Ministry of Health. The company employs scientists with strong links to offshore researchers and manufacturers.

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