It’s a controversial plant, one that ties Porourangi Tawhiwhirangi to a long, clandestine past. But in today’s changing political climate, cannabis has come to symbolise a bright new future for his community.
Tawhiwhirangi says it all began when he first heard about a local hemp course run by Hikurangi Hemp – now Rua Bioscience, a major player in Aotearoa’s medicinal cannabis industry – so he went to check it out, and started getting involved in community harvests.
Its founders, Panapa Ehau and Manu Caddie, had a vision of creating a company with a focus on creating jobs in the community, by teaching those with illicit market cultivation skills how to operate in a legal environment.
The company was fast becoming a global innovator, after it was the first Kiwi company to be granted a licence to cultivate pharmaceutical-grade cannabis.
With his wife and best friend, Tawhiwhirangi obtained a hemp licence and started the company E3C, short for East Coast Cannabis Company. They planted a crop on a hectare of land, which the polytechnic used for its classroom learning last summer.
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