Aotearoa Cannabis Breeders Cooperative – a proposal for discussion

Hikurangi Cannabis Company has been talking to and more importantly listening to local cannabis breeders.

Cannabis breeders in Aotearoa have been cultivating and breeding plants at considerable risk for decades. Thousands of people have been arrested and imprisoned for many years, lost personal possessions, been subject to physical harm and in some cases people have lost their lives as a result of conflict over cannabis crops.  

A unique opportunity now presents itself in the form of the Government passing legislation that will enable plant material grown in New Zealand to be used by licensed medicinal cannabis cultivators. There are a range of risks for everyone involved in potential arrangements and the details of how government see the provision working have not been finalised but a proposal for discussion offers a couple of options for breeders and bureaucrats to consider.

The aim of the proposal is to:

  • Provide legal protection for breeders and their Intellectual Property
  • Allow previously illicit breeders to be involved in the medicinal cannabis scheme
  • Provide a mechanism for licensed medicinal cannabis cultivators to access local genetics.

The proposal sits in a website format – we called the site Aotearoa Cannabis Breeders Cooperative (ACBC) – www.acbc.nz – but this is just for the purpose of sharing the ideas and getting feedback on what people think will and won’t work. We welcome feedback, tell us if the idea sucks and why it will never work, what a better alternative will be or whether you think some aspects have merit and could be improved on.

The ACBC could be run by breeders themselves, or more likely to protect breeders’ identities, guided by individual/s independent of commercial interests and trusted by breeders who are appointed as Trustees or Cannabis Commissioners (for example people like Nándor Tánczos and Annette Sykes).

We ask some questions too:

Key Questions:

  • Should registration be time critical – so if Breeder A registers a genotype before Breeder B then should Breeder A have priority of any IP that is commercialised, unless the genotype is already registered to other owners in NZ (or overseas)? There are pros and cons to this option – having first in, first served will incentivise submission of genetics and there could be a window of opportunity of say one month where everyone who has submitted essentially the same genotype in that period has an equal share in the commercialisation of it, this means people with rare genetics that get commercialised will perhaps benefit more than those with common genetics. There may also be legal issues with registering and commercialising genotypes that already have legal protections in overseas jurisdictions.
  • Should commercialisation be managed by the cooperative/trust rather than in confidential agreements between breeders and licensed companies? We don’t have a firm view on this question. Standardised commercialisation terms would provide transparency and consistency but some genotypes and knowledge will be more valuable to some companies than to others, so there would need to be flexibility and perhaps the independent Trustees/Commissioners can act as advocates for breeders in otherwise confidential negotiations to ensure they get a fair deal.
  • Should licensed commercial producers be prohibited from sourcing unregistered genotypes – this would remove likely informal, unregulated trading platforms that would encourage continued illicit importing, growing and trading? We think something like this should be the only avenue for commercial producers to access local genetics as the way to best protect breeders rights and interests, it could be mandated by government in regulations and/or cultivation license conditions.
  • Should there be a time limit for breeders to register their genotypes? We think not, it should be an ongoing opportunity unless something like Option 2 is in place.

We look forward to your feedback!

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