FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: 11 December 2018
New Zealand cannabis company Zeacann is welcoming The Misuse of Drugs (Medicinal Cannabis) Amendment Bill which has just passed its third reading in parliament.
The bill gives immediate legal protection to users of cannabis-based medicines for patients in palliative care: an estimated 25,000 people.
It also specifies that a framework for wider legal medicinal legislation is established within the next 12 months.
Zeacann co-founder Chris Fowlie says today is a huge step towards making affordable and effective medicinal cannabis products available to all sick New Zealanders.
He’s been campaigning on cannabis legal reform across three decades, through his various roles as the founder of Auckland’s Hemp Store, the president of Norml, co-founder of the New Zealand Medical Cannabis Council, and go-to media commentator.
“The government is finally removing the stigma that cannabis has suffered from for decades and seeing it for what it is: an all-natural and highly effective medical product which can treat a variety of conditions from chronic pain to anxiety.”
“Today is a great day. Thanks to great leadership, 25,000 more people with terminal illness can benefit from the multitude of benefits medicinal cannabis delivers.
“Of course, this is only the beginning. We need a comprehensive legal framework to make medicinal cannabis available to all sick New Zealanders, and we’re excited that today we have a clear one year timeframe for that.”
Zeacann is currently undergoing a $20m capital raising round to grow cannabis and manufacture medicines for domestic and export markets.
Today’s bill also allows New Zealand manufacturers to use local varieties of cannabis which are established in this country.
That will give Zeacann — with Fowlie’s 25 years of writing about, photographing, and documenting local cannabis strains — a unique competitive edge internationally.
“The New Zealand brand is so strong; this country has a reputation of producing high quality and safe food products,” Fowlie says.
“So, being able to produce Kiwi-exclusive strains of cannabis is hugely exciting because it will tap into and strengthen this brand.”
Zeacann estimates it will be able to begin growing cannabis in the first half of next year, once it has received a government licence. It’s currently undertaking research with Auckland University of Technology into medicinal cannabis.
The company’s goal is to have product ready for sale by the time medicinal cannabis is legalised for sick patients across the board.
“The driving ethos behind Zeacann is to put patients first, with highly effective, safe, and tested medicinal cannabis products affordable for all New Zealanders. The best way we can to do that is by achieving economies of scale through exporting,” Fowlie says.
“Today’s bill is a wonderful step in the right direction but we’re calling on the government to keep up the momentum and enact a comprehensive legal framework for New Zealand-made medicinal cannabis as quickly as possible, so that we can help patients here and globally as soon as possible.”