While Europe, Canada, and individual states in the U.S. comprise of the majority of the cannabis market, many smaller, less well-known markets are developing without receiving as much media attention.
New Zealand is one of those, as the countries Ministry of Health recently announced that they awarded a license to grow cannabis to Helius Therapeutics, a domestic biotech company focused on medical cannabis R&D. Not only will the company become the first licensed cannabis grower in Auckland (New Zealand’s largest urban city), but it will also be able to boast the largest cultivation site in the entire country.
The license, which permits Helius to establish a cannabis breeding program as well as develop new cannabis varieties (chemovars) for R&D applications, will also permit the company to grow cannabis across two large-scale sites and nurseries within the Auckland area.
“Securing our cultivation license is the result of nearly a year’s work and a significant financial investment. Our license allows us to shift up a gear, move into the next phase of development and commence cultivating thousands of plants here in Auckland,” said Co-founder Paul Manning. He went on to describe the grant as a significant milestone for the company, alongside other developments such as securing a USD $15 million investment backed by New Zealand tech billionaire Guy Haddleton (who, according to the NZ Herald, now serves as the firms director with a 40 percent stake in the company).
“The Ministry of Health approaches each license application on a case-by-case basis. Our objective was to align our cultivation license to our strategy, and that is to leverage our scale and research partnerships to develop quality, novel, locally-produced medicinal cannabis products that are affordable for New Zealanders,” he added.
Helius also announced that they had acquired an additional 10,000 square meters for their hydroponic greenhouse in Auckland. This additional growing capacity will be used to cultivate high-CBD (cannabidiol), with the end goal being to treat health problems such as arthritis, sleep disorders, and chronic pain. Currently, the company’s products are going to be priced at 15 cents per milligram, a substantial discount from foreign, imported cannabis that’s closer to 75 cents per milligram.
The press release went on to emphasize the importance of being an early-mover in blossoming cannabis markets and retaining the subsequent competitive edge over future competitors entering the space. The company has already formed strategic relationships with both domestic and international institutes and plans to open their own research laboratory in May 2019.
While news across the Pacific ocean might not garner as much attention in the cannabis community, these developments in New Zealand show that there are many emerging markets and opportunities still for investors to partake in.
Helius Therapeutics Inc Company Profile
Helius is a New Zealand-owned biotechnology company focused on medicinal cannabis research and development. The company is building a state-of-the-art facility in Auckland with indoor controlled growing systems, integrated extraction site, an advanced cannabinoid research laboratory and manufacturing operations. As the country’s regulatory environment changes, Helius is poised to set the standard for effective and accessible medicinal cannabis products in New Zealand. – Helius