Government helps sharpen the competitive edge of New Zealand’s medicinal cannabis industry

The Government is backing an innovative research and development programme to help accelerate the establishment of New Zealand’s medicinal cannabis industry and boost export potential, Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor announced today.

The Sustainable Food and Fibre Futures fund (SFF Futures) is contributing nearly $760,000 to the $1.9 million, three-year programme led by project partner Greenlab, which aims to establish evidence-based medical cannabis cultivation practices.

“New Zealand’s primary industry is built on excellence in applied science. This investment will see Greenlab’s researchers carrying out rigorous trials and lab testing at its leased facilities at Lincoln University to ensure a consistently high-quality and effective pharmaceutical product,” Damien O’Connor said.

“As medicinal cannabis has only been legal in New Zealand since 2020 there is a lack of available scientific information about how to best cultivate therapeutically active compounds.

Greenlab aims to generate standard cultivation protocols for a range of New Zealand genetics with the optimised pharmaceutical compounds required by doctors and needed by patients to improve their quality of life.

“The aim is to establish sustainable and efficient New Zealand-based medical cultivation practices – with the end goal of sharing the findings with other licensed Kiwi growers.

“This funding will ensure these growers have access to essential industry knowledge and insights much further and faster than would have otherwise been possible.”

There are currently 37 medicinal cannabis cultivation licences issued by the Ministry of Health.

“Less than 50 hectares is currently planted in medicinal cannabis and the current domestic market is supplied almost completely by imports, at around 1,800 prescriptions per month.”

SFF Futures is administered by the Ministry for Primary Industries. Through the fund the Government has to date co-invested more than $142 million into 163 projects worth almost $313 million in total. It’s a key part of the Government’s Fit for a Better World: Accelerating Our Economic Potential Roadmap.

“SFF Futures promotes problem solving and innovation in our food and fibre sectors in order to make a positive and lasting difference.

“A successful medicinal cannabis industry will earn significant export revenue, provide jobs, and produce locally-grown pharmaceutical options for patients,” Damien O’Connor said.