Under New Zealand's MPI Plants Biosecurity Index, cannabis cultivars can now be imported to New Zealand by Helius Therapeutics and other licensed producers. This includes high-THC cultivars, in addition to hemp varieties.
In another key step towards establishing New Zealand's regulated medicinal cannabis industry, the Ministry of Health has confirmed that licensed producers, like Helius, can begin importing their selected cultivars. This activity requires a license to cultivate cannabis and is subject to meeting the biosecurity requirements under the MPI Import Health Standard, IHS 155.02.05 Seeds for Sowing.
Previously, the import of cannabis genetics has been prohibited. MPI will allow for the import of cannabis seeds only at this stage.
Helius has formal relationships with cannabis genetics providers in Canada, the United States, Holland and Spain. The company has acquired a diverse portfolio of cultivars, destined to populate its East Tamaki facility this year. This includes high-THC cultivars and those expressing targeted minor cannabinoids.
The East Tamaki facility is being developed as a state-of-the-art, precision-controlled hydroponic environment.
Meanwhile, Helius West – the company's second site in Kumeu – will focus primarily on sun-fed CBD-dominant cultivars, grown organically.
New Zealand's changes to import rules comes in addition to the Government's forthcoming amnesty, which will allow blackmarket growers to supply cannabis genetics to licensed producers.
Last year, New Zealand's largest licensed cannabis company announced a call to growers to share in the opportunity. So far, Helius has received nearly 500 registrations from growers across New Zealand.
Helius is presently developing a genetics program to ensure cultivars are properly characterised and undergo genomic testing. The company will soon complete its legal and procedural guidelines which will be shared with all those who have joined. This approach to the amnesty will see growers benefit commercially and retain ownership of their property, with appropriate protection.
Helius is the first cannabis company to become certified New Zealand Grown through the Buy New Zealand Made campaign. The company will cultivate local cultivars, along with some of the world's top genetics.
As part of a major R&D program, the company's cultivation systems will be carefully tested and optimised over the coming months.
Helius is assembling a team of experienced growers and horticultural staff, including local and international talent. Together with some of the country's leading plant scientists, Helius aspires to develop world-class medicinal cannabis products to benefit patients in New Zealand and around the world.