AUT and Zeacann Ltd have been granted licenses by the Ministry of Health to grow high-THC and high-CBD cannabis for the research and development of medicinal cannabis products.
The licenses allow Zeacann (formerly PharmaCann) and AUT, which formed a research partnership in August 2018, to import seeds, cultivate cannabis strains, research ways to extract active ingredients and formulate products, and have them independently verified.
Zeacann CEO Chris Fowlie says, “Our licenses let us ‘hit go’ on several research projects including; trialing the best genetic strains for New Zealand growing conditions, developing standards and best practice methods for cannabinoid production, extraction and dose delivery, verifying anecdotal claims and researching several promising formulations.”
Fowlie says Zeacann’s R&D partnership with AUT aims to ensure patients can access safe, tested and affordable products that work and to support the growth of a New Zealand-based medicinal cannabis industry.
Zeacann has partnered with Amsterdam-based TH Seeds, which has 35 years’ experience, to supply the starting genetics and technical expertise, on an exclusive basis. Fowlie says TH Seeds genetics, which will be cultivated in AUT laboratories, are found in licensed production facilities around the world and have long pedigrees of winning cannabis contests.
“We will make these strains available here, giving local growers the benefit of decades of experience so they can produce medicinal-grade cannabis without having to learn everything from scratch.”
AUT’s Drug Delivery Research Group, run by Dr Ali Seyfoddin, will research and develop laboratory techniques for analysis, refinement and extraction to produce new formulations and methods of delivery with enhanced bioavailability and safety profiles.
Dr Seyfoddin says their formulations will be more effective than those currently available and the partners will share discoveries and knowledge by publishing standards and licensing IP.
"AUT and Zeacann believe in sharing discoveries and the knowledge we develop by publishing open standards to enable a wide variety of businesses, small and large, to participate nationally and internationally. Together we want to grow the local industry and build a reputation as a center of excellence for medicinal cannabis science,” he says.
AUT Dean of Health and Environmental Sciences, and long-time campaigner for the availability of medicinal cannabis in New Zealand, Max Abbott says it’s important to underpin changes in the law with scientific understanding of the ways in which cannabis and cannabis derivatives can benefit health and evidence that these products are of known and reliable quality.
Regulations for New Zealand's medicinal cannabis scheme will come into effect on December 19th, 2019, with the full scheme to be operational by mid-2020. The scheme will allow New Zealand doctors to prescribe cannabinoid- and cannabis-based medicines for any condition.