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4/20 stories, pt. 5:

"The proposed regulation changes will dramatically improve our access to export markets"

We're almost there! Before it's officially the 4/20 weekend, let's take another look at the New Zealand market as we have insights from an outdoor grower. And how are things going from a supplier's perspective?

Supplying local and international prescriptions
Puro New Zealand has been operating as a cultivator of sustainable, certified organic medicinal cannabis commodities at a large scale. "We have two beautiful farm sites in the Marlborough region, famous for intense sunlight, beautiful farmland, and superb soils," says Tom Forrest, Co-Founder of Puro. "Our team has just finished harvest 2024 with great success with our new high potency cultivars, incredible aromatic profiles, and actually exceeding our harvest yield projections! These are our most impressive cultivars to date. Our potency, yield, efficiencies, and overall plant health are improving each year. Our team has amassed significant cultivation IP that ensures our standards are in the top tier of pharmaceutical cannabis commodities worldwide."

Puro is proud to have successfully completed multiple export consignments in recent months, ensuring Puro organic cannabis is now accessible to local and international prescriptions in multiple product formats. "Our team works closely with Helius to manufacture NZ-grown, NZ-made, GMP medicines. We are also fortunate to be continuing our co-funded research as part of the $13m NZ Government SF (Sustainable Food and Fibre Futures) grant, which is supporting our research into cultivar development and breeding, sustainable cultivation methodologies, protected cropping, waste management, and training programs. This commercial and research success has seen Puro becoming recognized as a pioneer in the New Zealand (and Asia-Pacific) cannabis industry," Tom says.

However, currently, there are a significant number of regulatory barriers and delays that prevent Puro from exporting products and bringing them to market without delay. "We are excited to work alongside the New Zealand regulators to try to hasten these processes that will help the wider industry to grow, and patients access more local Kiwi-made medicines. Changes to the regulations have been approved by the Minister of Health and are expected to go to Cabinet in the next 1-2 months. This will dramatically improve our access to export markets, so we are very excited for this change."

Tom says that the current market for New Zealand pharmaceutical cannabis is not an easy one, and they've seen several companies struggling to stay afloat financially. "While these restrictions exist for the products we can make, sell, and advertise (or not advertise!) - the industry will face frustrating challenges. There are strong partnerships with local companies working together, and I believe this collaborative approach will see us through as a country that can demonstrate its capabilities to produce high quality, trustworthy, and unique cannabis commodities," Tom says.

"The industry is on the cusp, and the leading companies are performing well in a challenging regulatory environment. Thankfully, regulatory change is imminent, which will facilitate wider sector growth."

Regulatory changes
The regulatory restrictions with associated delays and costs are likely the biggest challenges faced by the New Zealand cannabis industry, he adds. "These regulations, locally and abroad, are constantly evolving, which provides a moving target for our processes and administration teams. We want to see a thriving local industry that involves breeding and cultivar development, cultivation, and manufacturing to encourage novel product development and foster an industry for growth."

"While the regulatory challenges are evolving and the local NZ industry is pushing for change, we are also looking to the support and further education of the local medical community," Tom says. "The New Zealand cannabis clinics are only just starting to appear, and provide the crucial education to Doctors, the medical fraternity, and the wider community about the efficacy, safety and incredible potential of medicinal cannabis commodities."

"As an emerging industry in New Zealand, we are forced to figure out novel approaches to cannabis industry production. From business structure and business relationships to cultivation and processing methods, Kiwi ingenuity is able to learn from abroad but apply our own ideas to how a cannabis sector and the relevant actors can work together."

Future opportunities
All in all, New Zealand has an exciting few months ahead with regulatory change and significant growth in demand from domestic consumers. "Demand for quality cannabis products is strong, and the New Zealand medical cannabis industry is growing fast, with the number of prescriptions issued locally increasing by 245% last year."

"We are also expecting regulatory change that will dramatically fast-track the export of material and make our product more affordable for our international customers with reduced regulatory costs. We were expecting this change before Christmas but have been informed it is imminent. This is hugely exciting for the New Zealand cannabis industry and our international partners," Tom says.

Tom thinks the biggest opportunities are exciting emerging nearby markets that appreciate the prowess of New Zealand's agricultural sector. "For example, Marlborough NZ sauvignon blanc is widely appreciated in Asia and around the world, and our vision of producing the most sustainable organic cannabis in the world has been well received by our global customers. We see an opportunity as international customers learn to appreciate the novel profiles, chemotypic expression, and trustworthy production that comes from Aotearoa, New Zealand. Our 'sauvignon blanc' of cannabis is showing incredible potential for unique aromas and flavors, which is exciting to see what unique applications and product formats this can translate into."

"The stronger the industry becomes, the more our company must evolve with them"
"It's a reality that our growers have a catalog of options when it comes to growing media. However, in terms of quality and consistency, the PRO-MIX brand has a strong and longstanding reputation in this market," says Bernard Brideau, Market Development Director at Premier Tech. "With a constant goal to bring innovative ideas, we've demonstrated to the market that incorporating active ingredients/beneficial microorganisms, such as mycorrhizae and Bacillus, into professional growing media is possible. Now, about 20 years later, with the same goal in mind, we introduce functional packaging to this industry as well. Our Grow Bags are a prime example."

Bernard Brideau

"For us, keeping up with the market changes as legalization progresses is important," Bernard adds. "It is important that we can supply new commercial facilities and make options available for them, always keeping in mind their growing environment, facility size, constraints, pains, and how we can help them grow. As the industry strengthens, our company must evolve with it, meaning creating solutions tailored to its needs. Moreover, these challenges are not only external. While developing these new offerings, we need to maintain focus on registration approvals of our new offers, make sure we have the production capacity to deliver, and the availability of our product in a timely manner."

When it comes to the future, developing new offers will remain a goal for the company to bring its customers to the next level. "When we say this, we mean focusing on quantity, quality, ease of use, and the effect on the plant. We need to keep in mind that the industry is expanding overseas, where our products are now becoming available. Therefore, keeping up with the expanding demand and making our products available is a priority. In short, our priorities include introducing new products, keeping up with market expansion, and providing more solutions in terms of both the growing media itself and the functionalities of the packaging."

For more information:

Premier Tech