Govt opening the gate to cannabis growers

By Te Kuru o te Marama Dewes

The Misuse of Drugs (Medicinal Cannabis) Amendment Bill has passed its second reading, with a government amnesty giving illicit cannabis growers the opportunity to enter the medicinal cannabis industry.

Managing director of Hikurangi Cannabis Company, Panapa Ehau says, “It's a really positive thing.  It puts New Zealand as a whole in a really good position on a global space, but what it also does is recognise the knowledge that many parts of New Zealand are famous for and New Zealand is famous for as well.”

Ehau says a large number of East Coast families depend on illegal cannabis trade.

“This legislative change will provide an opportunity for sustainable income for those families,” says Ehau.

Hikurangi Cannabis Company has started a roadshow with cannabis growers in the Tairāwhiti region to develop agreements that will pay royalties to growers who contribute strains that realise commercial value.

Ehau says Hikurangi Cannabis Company has developed legal arrangements to protect the rights of cannabis breeders in New Zealand from foreign commercial interests.

“People will come in wanting the knowledge that they have so our focus is making sure that the people are at the centre and the benefit for whānau and multiple generations is kept intact or looked after," says Ehau.

There may be other positive impacts according to Ehau, with over 4,700 people being convicted of cannabis charges over the 2017-2018 period.

“Rather than our whānau being ostracised and making up more than half the prison population due to cannabis-related charges- that can be turned to be economic development or economic opportunity for whānau.”

The Medicinal Cannabis Bill will have its final reading on 10 December.