Record-breaking medical cannabis company, Puro, is calling on the government to fast track the establishment of a medical cannabis industry in New Zealand.
Puro, which smashed the Australasian record for crowdfunding after raising $4 million in start-up funding, has already grown a test crop of low-THC hemp in Kekerengu and has started the consenting process to build its Marlborough headquarters near Blenheim.
Managing Director Tim Aldridge says this will be a multi-million dollar facility, with a medical cannabis research centre, an indoor cultivation facility and a large farm.
“We have just commissioned a report from independent economists, Agribusiness Group, on this new industry’s ability to create jobs for New Zealand. It shows our operation, alone, has the potential to create up to 375 full time jobs within the next two years. This could eventually grow to 500 full time jobs.”
An earlier report from The AgriBusiness Group concluded that if 1% of the New Zealand population used medical cannabis, the market could be worth $379 million each year. Internationally, the total cannabis market is estimated to be worth USD$150 billion.
Tim Aldridge says New Zealand needs to invest in resilient new and sustainable industries to create jobs and medical cannabis is a perfect candidate.
“The global medical cannabis industry has not been negatively impacted by COVID-19.”
Tim Aldridge says the time is right for New Zealand to create the industry here.
“Amid this lockdown, New Zealand’s Medicinal Cannabis Scheme came into effect (on 1 April 2020). It was a milestone for the industry and means that companies like Puro can now apply for licenses to grow medicinal cannabis commercially. Our application is in already.”
Tim Aldridge says Puro is also applying to Crown Investment Partners as a shovel-ready project and to the Provincial Growth Fund for government support.
“We’re hoping the government will recognise that helping us to fast-track our infrastructure development will enable us to create hundreds of jobs, reach profitability quickly and ensure our long-term sustainability of the company.”
“We are ready to go. The detailed design of the facilities is completed, we’re ready to purchase all of our necessary equipment and lodge for resource consent. We have relationships with pharmaceutical companies ready to buy our product plus an incredible team of growers and technical expertise all set to go.
Marlborough District Council Mayor John Leggett says Marlborough is one of New Zealand’s leading horticultural centres and has a long tradition of horticultural and viticulture innovation.
“Our communities and economy need new businesses and employment opportunities, particularly as part of our COVID-19 recovery. So a Marlborough based business like Puro, capitalising on that opportunity and creating local jobs deserves to be supported.”
Puro has also taken care to ensure its design is environmentally sustainable.
“Our focus is very much on natural farming and organic cultivation. We are exploring renewable energy sources, including composting and biowaste, which will limit our carbon emissions and seeing how our crops can contribute to the government’s billion trees initiative,” says Tim.
In its application for government support, Puro is requesting the government look to fast-track industry applications under the Ministry of Health’s licensing scheme and resource consent applications as well as funding for Puro’s operations.
“We had plans to raise an additional $12 million this year from debt and equity, we expect COVID-19 will make that more challenging so government assistance would be essential to ensure we can create new jobs in the regions.
“It will enable us to get up and running, hire skilled staff and then contract other growers to supply on- and offshore pharmaceutical manufacturers. This is a valuable opportunity – not just for us and for Marlborough. It is an opportunity for New Zealand to create a new, innovative and valuable industry and thousands of new jobs.”