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Cannasouth secures cannabis import licences


Waikato company Cannasouth, which plans to list on the NZX around April or May, said it had secured new licences to import, cultivate and research medicinal cannabis.

The Ministry of Health licences will enable Cannasouth to import and cultivate a wide range of cannabis cultivars for research purposes, the company said.

Cannasouth already has a licence to possess controlled drugs, which allows the company to extract, process, and manufacture cannabis products for scientific research.

One of the new licences allows Cannasouth to import an approved pharmaceutical ingredient (API) from the Netherlands – dried cannabis flower – for research purposes.

Cannasouth said last October it planned to list its shares on the NZX through an initial public offering (IPO) in the second quarter.

Chief executive Mark Lucas said having all three licences is a significant step forward for Cannasouth’s medicinal cannabis research and would enable the company to speed up its research programmes ahead of proposed legislative changes that will allow the manufacture and sale of medicinal cannabis in New Zealand.

“By importing a wide variety of cultivars, along with the dried flower from the Netherlands, we can further investigate the potential of both high CBD and THC varieties.”

He said CBD and THC are the most well-known compounds in medicinal cannabis, with both shown to relieve suffering from a wide range of medical conditions.

“What is less known, is how both compounds can work together in different compositions to alleviate suffering, and how other rarer compounds present in medicinal cannabis can also be used in treating medical conditions.

“We’re now in a position where we can use the imported dried flower to get going with our research p programmes while we wait for our own flower production to come through from our research cultivation facility.”

Lucas, alongside co-founder Nic Foreman, has been involved in the cultivation and research of industrial hemp, and now medicinal cannabis, since 2002 when they were granted one of New Zealand’s first cultivation licences.

Tim Preston of CM Partners, one of the seed funders of Cannasouth and NZX sponsor for its planned IPO, said Cannasouth was on track with its IPO plans.

The Misuse of Drugs (Medicinal Cannabis) Amendment Bill passed its third reading in December last year, laying the foundations of a medical cannabis industry.

In addition to giving the terminally ill a defence against the use of illicit cannabis products, the bill requires the Government to write a regulatory framework for the medicinal cannabis industry within a year – suggesting it could take until 2020 for a clearer indication of the shape the local industry will take.

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