Two Kiwi companies have partnered to be the first to have a New Zealand-grown dried cannabis flower product verified by the Medicinal Cannabis Agency.
Dried cannabis flower, otherwise known as cannabis bud on the black market, is available on prescription in New Zealand, but up until now, all product has been imported.
The plants are grown in a 500m² indoor facility in Canterbury by Kalyx, the first company to export medicinal cannabis from New Zealand, and NUBU.
The strain of plant was chosen by the companies three years ago during their research and development stage. They grew different strains from seed and were selected for the desired characteristic. Cannabinoid levels were tested with a device called a Gemacert prior to analytical testing.
Once the growers had found the desired strain, three commercial-scale batches had to be grown and put through the process of testing to meet quality standards and product registration.
The government’s Medicinal Cannabis Agency administers the medicinal cannabis scheme and ensures medicinal cannabis products meet quality standards.
Although it can come in oil form, the bulk of medicinal cannabis dispensed internationally comes as a dried flower.
In Germany, the largest medicinal cannabis market in the world, dried cannabis makes up nearly half of the market. In Canada's medicinal market it's 64%.
Co-founder of Kalyx Jesse O’Steen gained experience growing cannabis in California before moving to New Zealand in 2008.
He said the cannabis business was a very challenging space to operate in and access to market was a key component.
Alongside Dwight Bailey, he started cultivation with a medicinal cannabis R&D licence prior to obtaining a cultivation and supply licence. His was the first New Zealand company to complete an international delivery in 2021.
“We couldn’t be happier to have secured entry, so we can support local patients,” O’Steen said.
Formed in 2016, NUBU is New Zealand's largest medicinal cannabis distribution company, specialising in the distribution of therapeutics including cannabis and psychedelics.
The company also develops New Zealand-made cannabis products for export markets.
Chief executive Mark Dye said the companies had worked relentlessly for three years to make this happen.
“More importantly, it is huge news for local patients, who have been eagerly awaiting the arrival of NZ-grown dried cannabis flower options.
“There is a bright future ahead for the local industry.”
With prescriptions for medicinal cannabis products up significantly in the last 12 months, and dried cannabis flower products driving this increase, the timing couldn’t be better, Pearl Schomburg from the Auckland Patient Advocacy said.
“This will inevitably open up more options for patients to access a wider variety of quality cannabis strains that better suit their symptoms and conditions.
“This is another incredibly important step towards the beginning of a local cannabis market that focuses on providing quality local products for Aotearoa New Zealand.”
Bay of Plenty based OGG Holdings Ltd has also partnered with NUBU and will soon be submitting dried cannabis flower products for verification with the Medicinal Cannabis Agency.