A medicinal cannabis company in Ruatoria has launched its first product, a CBD oil called CBD 100.
Rua Bioscience's cannabis oil is available on prescription only.
The handful of medicinal cannabis products available in New Zealand is growing with the introduction of a new CBD oil. CBD oil is commonly used for pain and anxiety disorders.
"It's been a long time coming," said Kevin Pewhairangi from Horouta Pharmacy.
Rua Bioscience is based in Ruatoria, a rural town on the east coast of the North Island, 130km north of Gisborne.
Pewhairangi said he thinks no one would've taken them seriously back in the day.
"If you'd have asked us 15 years ago it would have been laughed at having a pharmaceutical company located on the East Coast."
Rua Bioscience CEO Rob Mitchell said building a place to produce the CBD was not easy either.
"To build an indoor and outdoor cultivation centre at the standards that are required to produce medicine in Ruatoria was not an easy job."
Ruatoria was once infamous for growing cannabis.
"It's an icon if you like on State Highway 35 that shows that there is that investment in the region," Mitchell said.
More than half of Rua Bioscience's 40 employees whakapapa to Te Tairawhiti with some specialists brought in from elsewhere.
The benefits of this medicine span far beyond the ailments that it helps.
Rua Bioscience director and co-founder Panapa Ehau wanted the company to lead the way for more than just those who needed CBD oil for more than just medicinal purposes.
"One of the founding kaupapa of the company was to be able to create pathways not only for whanau or people in need to access the medicine but also for people who had been growing for decades to come into a legal construct and be able to create income for those families."
Rua Bioscience has also launched New Zealand’s first compassionate access scheme for medicinal cannabis.
Under the scheme, the medicine will be available at no cost for a limited number of qualifying people in Te Tairāwhiti, depending on their clinical needs and circumstances.
"Essentially it comes off our bottom line but that is a social commitment that we've made to the patient community in Tairāwhiti and in time to Aotearoa," Ehau told Newshub.