Government help Māori enter Medicinal Cannabis industry

By Aroha Mane

Medicinal cannabis is coming and the Ministry of Health are holding a series of workshops, to prepare Māori stakeholders to enter the industry. The Ministry hopes to provide forums to ask questions, get advice, and assist Māori for when Government begins taking license applications in April.

Ministry of Health Project leader Andrea Eng says:

“For me, it's very important to hear the Māori voice.

“Because the consultations that we held last year there were different focus, and they had a focus on whenua, whānau, personal stories they wanted to share.

“They wanted to know more about getting into the industry.”

Medicinal cannabis resides in the pharmaceutical industry and many are interested because of the potential economic value. However, Māori Development Manager Eugene Rewi says Māori have a different approach when it comes to the industry.

“Māori iwi and community groups have a different perspective. Some have told me their main interest derives from the health benefits, knowledge and the wellbeing of the whānau,” Rewi says.

Rua Bioscience formerly known as Hikurangi Cannabis based in Gisborne is the only Māori operated business in the industry. Founder Panapa Ehau says these meetings are important because there are some sobering realities when entering into the industry.

“It's very limited in the ability for whānau at the flax-roots to have the resources to engage. For example, to become a pharmaceutical company, it's literally millions of dollars that's needed to be invested in the infrastructure and the people that are needed.”

However, regardless of the challenges, these meetings can be beneficial.

“It's really important that our whānau have an opportunity to engage with our regulators ā-kanohi.

“To understand the intricacies of what's been set in the regulatory framework and what that means for our whānau to engage in the medicinal cannabis industry which is the only legal one that we have.”


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