Prominent cannabis biotech start-up Helius commends National on its medicinal cannabis bill

Updated: Jul 29, 2018

Helius Therapeutics, the New Zealand-owned medicinal cannabis company that completed a $15m Series A capital raise earlier this year, commends Dr Shane Reti and the National Party for their medicinal cannabis bill.

Dr Shane Reti QSM, National

To follow is an excerpt from Scoop. You can read the story here.

Speaking on behalf of Helius, Co-Founder Paul Manning says,

“It is clear that Shane Reti and his team have sought expert advice, applied industry best practice and commercial rigour to implement a realistic, workable approach to medicinal cannabis legislation in New Zealand.”

Helius believes the details set out in the National bill will provide accessibility for patients seeking to improve their quality of life and pave the way for a world-class, well-regulated medicinal cannabis industry. 

“In our opinion, this bill is a near-perfect balance of social and commercial priorities for medicinal cannabis legislation.”

This bill addresses the key issues that we have campaigned for over the last six months. It will set medical-grade standards for the cultivation and manufacture of cannabis-based therapeutics. It points to GMP standards as mandatory, which will place the New Zealand industry, and companies like Helius, ahead of the world in terms of safety, consistency and quality.

Helius supports National's proposed medicinal cannabis card program and believes this would provide a high level of accessibility for patients who can benefit from cannabis-based medicines.

“Cannabis card schemes have proven to facilitate accessibility in the US. This approach removes friction from the process, improves the patient experience, connects healthcare practitioners and helps with the integration of seed-to-sale tracking. This approach also supports a potentially broad domestic patient-base for local producers to serve”.

Helius believes this new bill gives producers and patients greater clarity.

"What we see in this bill is a level of detail that the industry can bite down on. The bill makes the standards for cultivation and manufacturing clearer. It tells us who can cultivate and manufacture products; it tells us what we can sell, where we can sell it and whom we can sell it to. These details were not clear in the original bill." 

“This is exactly what local producers like us wanted to see, and equally it sets out the right priorities for society. We think the Government should get behind this bill.”

On the point of GMP, Helius would like to reiterate that these standards will not impact cost to patients. Helius has worked extensively with partners, Deloitte, to model the impact of GMP certification on the end cost of products to patients. The team have applied industry insights from their North American offices and Helius’ own commercial model in New Zealand. We found that there is no substantive impact of GMP on product costs when compared to lesser standards”, says Manning.

“Helius is capable of producing medical-grade cannabis products for patients at a cost not exceeding the present, unregulated black market”.

Helius suggests that National’s bill should go further to address the enormous economic opportunity associated with exporting cannabis extracts. The company advocates that licensed producers should be allowed to create more jobs and generate taxable, foreign earnings for New Zealand through trade in the $55b global medicinal cannabis market.

“Demand for medicinal cannabis is outstripping supply in the world markets. We believe Government should support local producers in exporting New Zealand-grown medicinal cannabis products. Better yet, the economies of scale associated with export will further reduce product costs for Kiwi patients.”

Helius also points out thesuggested 5km residential safety zone needs further consideration with exemption options for secure, indoor facilities located in industrial precinct

“We hope to see this well thought-out framework put forward for public and parliamentary scrutiny, without delay. Medicinal cannabis is now supported by 87% of the population, and we are ready to begin local production of safe, affordable medicinal cannabis products to improve quality of life. We must put patients ahead of politics and maintain momentum."

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