September 8, 2020
Issue 11 2020

The Future of Dispensaries

You may not believe it, and your conservative grandparents may not want it, but many small and legal Kiwi cannabis grow operations have already started preparing for a future where cannabis is legalised.


It’s 2020, the world and New Zealand are in the midst of a global pandemic that has killed over 800,000 people worldwide. Whilst looking at this statistic you may think that the world is a pretty gloomy place to be, or you could look at the positives like I am going to in this piece about the future of recreational cannabis. 


Pioneering operations include the Hikurangi Group, who have started Rua Bioscience LTD which operates out of Ruatoria, an East Coast area with a strong Māori spiritual connection. The company says that Rua Bioscience aims to “provide pharmaceutical grade cannabis at affordable prices.” 


Other companies such as Cannasouth aim to achieve similar goals, with a goal in mind of developing, “next-generation cannabinoid therapeutics to support patients' health outcomes and improve their quality of life.” 


I tried to contact Cannasouth to discuss their future plans growing and distributing cannabis after the referendum, but my attempts fell on deaf ears. However, Cannasouth has a section on their website called “The Investor Centre” and in 2019 Cannasouth was listed on the New Zealand Main Board, (NZX) and raised $10 million from public investors. 


I was lucky enough to speak to recent Cannasouth investor Tom Aitchison on why he chose to invest in a medical cannabis company.


“With the recent decriminalisation of marijuana, as well as the increased research and prescribing of cannabis based medicines in New Zealand, I recognised that there was an opportunity for a New Zealand based company to fuel the growth of this industry in New Zealand,” he said. 


“I am a person that firmly believes in medicinal value of the compounds found in the cannabis plant and the endless benefits they present for minor medical ailments, all the way up to severe terminal illnesses. Hence, I jumped on the opportunity to support a nationally based company that is actively researching and producing medicines derived from the cannabis plant.”  


Tom and companies like Cannasouth obviously support the passing of the referendum as it will only catalyse their shares and growth. 


I also spoke to Dunedin based company Greenstone Dispensary and asked if they had plans to move from selling smoking products to cannabis, if the referendum was to pass. 


Business Development Manager Cody was eager to expand.


“Absolutely, I have been a long term supporter of legalisation, setting up an actual dispensary would be a dream come true,” he said.


“We are mostly just excited to have it under a legal framework. The strength limits appear to be a little harsh and testing for strengths could be prohibitively expensive, but removing the criminal element is extremely attractive.” 


Under the new bill, you will be able to buy up to 14 grams of cannabis, which is equivalent to half an ounce. This amount can only be purchased once a day and only from licensed outlets. 


Local businesses will not be affected by major companies dominating the market as a cap is set to be put on sales. Businesses cannot supply more than 20% of the intended cap and no online sales are permitted, according to the draft bill.


Only dried cannabis will be available for sale initially, and in the long run other products may enter onto the market. This includes edibles and concentrates, which will have to be approved through further regulations. 


You can also tell concerned parents that their children will not accidentally get high off an ‘edible gummy bear’ as any edibles will be restricted to baked goods that don’t require refrigeration or heating.  


Whilst living within a progressive student bubble, as many of us do, it may seem like everyone wants cannabis to be legal, I can assure you that this is not the case. 


The “Say Nope To Dope” campaign has been running for some time now; the group is built up of concerned individuals and organisations that “oppose any attempt to legalise marijuana for recreational purposes.” 


The campaign has over 15 New Zealand based organisations on board with their stance, including the Sensible Sentencing Trust, The Drug Detection Agency and Methcon which is a drug education group. 


Only 63.92% of New Zealanders aged 18-24 are enrolled to vote, whereas in the 50+ age group, 90% plus are enrolled to vote. And let’s be honest, it’s the boomers who are going to mainly oppose the referendum. 


So I finally urge you, if you have not already enrolled, go and do so. Also, do your best to educate others on the pros and cons of the legalisation of cannabis in New Zealand, as thanks to Covid-19 the election will now be held on October the 17th, giving people longer to enrol and educate themselves. 


A yes vote for the legalisation of cannabis also works towards promoting harm reduction surrounding the use of cannabis, as the supply will become more regulated, ultimately making it safer and easier to purchase.