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$13 million government grant turbocharges NZ’s organic medicinal cannabis industry

A partnership between the New Zealand Government and the country’s largest medicinal cannabis grower could see the industry become as successful as the wine industry in the near future. The $32.2 million program will run from 2022 to 2027, with the Ministry for Primary Industries’ Sustainable Food and Fibre Futures (SFF Futures) program contributing $13 million.

Tim Aldridge, Tom Forrest, Minister Damien O’Connor and Sank Macfarlane

Founded in 2018, Puro is Australasia’s largest grower of medicinal cannabis and one of the world’s largest certified organic producers.

Managing director Tim Aldridge says the grant is a gamechanger that will provide the starting material for a wider range of high quality, New Zealand grown and made products for kiwi patients and those around the world, easing suffering and improving quality of life “Organic medicinal cannabis is a huge and lucrative opportunity for New Zealand, and this grant is a recognition of the potential of Puro and the local industry,” says Tim.

Under the agreement, Puro will develop production systems, support skills and training, explore contract growing and identify pathways to market for industry growth. “Being one of New Zealand’s first medicinal cannabis companies has meant we’ve had to overcome some major challenges – it hasn’t been easy. This program will see us create an organic production handbook that will be invaluable for Puro and our industry."

“The grant will also support Puro in developing post-harvesting processing technology and build the IP required to produce premium organic cannabis flower to meet increasing domestic and global demand.”

Tim says the funding will enable Puro to develop unique cultivars and seed stock for the New Zealand industry. “Our cultivation team are researching and developing the strains of medicinal cannabis best suited for New Zealand’s unique climate. The grant will see the acceleration of a large genetic database of cultivars to support the New Zealand industry and differentiate our cannabis products in global markets”.  

Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor believes now is the perfect time to grow this high-value industry, as international demand for medicinal cannabis takes off. “We’re proud to support the medicinal cannabis industry as it sets out to follow in the footsteps of our wine industry which, from first planting on commercial scale in the 1970s, has now reached over $2 billion in export value,” Damien O’Connor said. 

Puro expects 50 per cent of its product to be exported this year and aims to increase this year on year as more market access and greater production is achieved. Puro expects to export their first shipment next month.

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