New Zealand’s government is providing a $13-million grant to Puro, one of the country’s largest organic medical cannabis cultivators, to help accelerate the nascent industry.

The funding will help Puro develop production systems, support skills and training, explore contract growing and identify pathways to market, according to a company press release.

Puro Managing Director Tim Aldridge said in the release that “the grant is a gamechanger that will provide New Zealand patients with greater access to locally grown and manufactured medicine and pave the way for international export success.”

“Being one of New Zealand’s first medicinal cannabis companies has meant we’ve had to overcome some major challenges—it hasn’t been easy,” Aldridge said. “This program will see us create an organic production handbook that will be invaluable for Puro and our industry. The grant will also support Puro in developing post-harvesting processing technology and build the IP required to produce premium organic cannabis flower to meet increasing domestic and global demand.”

Puro was founded in 2018 and harvested its first medical cannabis crop last year, according to a government press release.

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The funding will also allow Puro to develop unique cultivars and seed stock for New Zealand’s medical cannabis industry, according to the company’s announcement.

“Our cultivation team are researching and developing the strains of medicinal cannabis best suited for New Zealand’s unique climate,” Aldridge said. “The grant will see the acceleration of a large genetic database of cultivars to support the New Zealand industry and differentiate our cannabis products in global markets.”

New Zealand Agriculture Commissioner Hon Damien O’Connor said that the grant could help the country’s medical cannabis industry become as successful as its wine industry.

“Now is the perfect time to grow this high-value industry, as international demand for medicinal cannabis takes off while New Zealand is amid an export boom,” O’Connor said in a public statement. “This project will bring significant scale to this new industry, providing domestically sourced medicinal cannabis for Kiwi patients in pain and exciting export opportunities in a global growth market, providing further diversification of land use and export opportunities.”

The partnership between New Zealand’s government and Puro is a $32-million program that will run from 2022 to 2027, with the Ministry Primary Industries’ Sustainable Food and Fibre Futures (SFF Futures) contributing the $13-million grant and Puro contributing the remainder of the funding.

“The announcement of this large-scale industry development project is an exceptional example of government and business working together at a critical time for our sector as we prepare for a significant export opportunity,” Steve Wilson, chair of the New Zealand Medicinal Cannabis Council, said in a public statement. “Puro operates at the forefront of organic and best practice cultivation. Its collaborative approach to develop and fast track research programs will provide real and long-lasting benefits to all New Zealand cultivators, medicines manufacturers and, as a result, the New Zealand economy.”