Ruatoria based Hikurangi Cannabis Company has been granted permission to cultivate 16 new varieties of cannabis, including some of the first high-THC strains to be imported under new biosecurity rules.
An amendment to the company’s license was issued by the Ministry of Health this week.
The new range of plants includes five varieties with high levels of THC, the main psychoactive compound found in cannabis, four high CBD, high THC strains and seven low THC varieties.
“We are very pleased to receive this expanded list of cultivars for our research and breeding efforts” said managing director Manu Caddie. “As we breed the particular plants that Hikurangi medicines are derived from, our plant scientists are saying diverse genetics is really important.”
Hikurangi currently employs 20 staff including a team of scientists with experience in horticultural engineering and agronomy, molecular biology, biochemistry, pharmaceuticals formulation and manufacturing.
After growing low-THC hemp varieties near Ruatoria since 2016, in August 2018 the first medicinal cannabis cultivation license issued to a company was awarded to Hikurangi. That license included only low-THC varieties but the company has now sourced high THC varieties that can meet New Zealand’s strict biosecurity requirements.
Until last month the Ministry for Primary Industries could not allow high-THC cannabis strains into New Zealand because the rules for importing cannabis seeds only applied to low-THC hemp varieties.
Officials from the Ministry of Health and MPI worked together to update the importation regulations to accommodate the new industry requirements and once notified of the changes, Hikurangi immediately lodged an application to amend their license to cover high performing strains.
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