NZ medicinal cannabis company Helius Therapeutics gets green light to manufacture for Kiwi patients

An Auckland company has been given the green light to manufacture locally made medicinal cannabis for Kiwi patients.

Helius Therapeutics says Medsafe has issued the company with a good manufacturing practice license, in what it's describing as a "significant milestone". 

The company said it acknowledged commentary that New Zealand's medicinal cannabis regulations are too hard but insists "no one is dragging the chain".

"We totally get it. There's no time to rest until New Zealand patients have more treatment options," Helius chief executive Carmen Doran said. "Despite being a botanical product, it's worth remembering that medicines typically take five to 10 years to develop and approve - and we are well ahead of that. In fact, we believe patients will have access to Kiwi-made products from later this year."

The final step for Helius to be allowed to supply medicines is providing data and evidence of its products' standards to the Medicinal Cannabis Agency, Doran said.

Despite the Misuse of Drugs (Medicinal Cannabis) Amendment Bill, with the aim of allowing terminally ill people to use cannabis and utensils for medical purposes, passing in 2018, advocates have told Newshub the price of importing and bureaucracy were still pushing people to the black market. 

"I understand that there are some access issues. There will be more products available later this year - once the market is fully in action the way we expect," Health Minister Andrew Little said in May.

In 2019, Helius began preparing its massive warehouses for industrial cultivation. New Zealand rich lister Guy Haddleton, who invested $15 million into the company, said at the time every Kiwi should have the right to a pain-free life. 

New Zealanders voted on personal cannabis use in a binding referendum at Election 2020 but it did not pass.