NZ cannabis company gets green light to import stronger strains

An East Coast company will be the first in New Zealand to import stronger cannabis under new biosecurity laws.

Hikurangi Cannabis Company has been given the green light to cultivate strains with high levels of THC, the plant's primary psychoactive compound.

Until December 2018, the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) only allowed low-THC strains into the country. After looking into the issue with the Ministry of Health, MPI updated the regulations and Hikurangi lodged an application to cultivate stronger varieties.

A new amendment to the company's licence means it can now legally grow 16 new varieties of cannabis for medicinal purposes. Of those 16, five strains will be high-THC, seven low-THC and four high-CBD.

THC is an effective pain reliever, and managing director Manu Caddie says the expanded list of permitted cultivars will mean only good things for the future of medicinal cannabis.

"As we breed the particular plants that Hikurangi medicines are derived from, our plant scientists are saying diverse genetics is really important," he said in a statement.

Biosecurity measures will be stepped up with the introduction of high-THC strains coming into the country, he says.

In August 2018 Hikurangi became the first New Zealand company to be awarded a medicinal cannabis cultivation licence.

New Zealanders will get to vote on personal cannabis use in a binding referendum at the 2020 general election.