A company from the east coast has become the second in New Zealand with a license to grow cannabis for research purposes for medicinal cannabis.
Hikurangi Cannabis has obtained a license from the Ministry of Health for the cultivation of cannabis strains that can eventually be used in medicines.
One of the company's founders, Manu Caddy, said that they had accumulated significant investments and would now start building their high-tech greenhouses and processing facilities near Ruatoria.
"It is an important milestone for us all to implement our business goal and community goal for building a pharmaceutical industry in Ruatoria," he said.
"We are excited to base this new industry on our community, a rural region that urgently needs new economic development opportunities, without the strong local support that believed in this goal, this would not have been possible."
Mr Caddy said the company has the potential to double household incomes in the area and provide more employment opportunities.
There was the possibility that some whanau would want to return to the area because of the new developments, but Mr Caddy said that other specialized workers might still have to be recruited from outside the region.
That would lead to the need to build new homes and other infrastructure and services, such as restaurants, he said.
There was still a lot of research and development to be done on the plants before the cultivation got off to a good start, Caddy said.
The company commissioned clinical trials for the first cannabis medicines made by New Zealand early next year.
Mr. Caddy said they wanted to offer safe and affordable medicinal cannabis products to New Zealanders by the end of next year.
The company was also in discussions with offshore companies about cooperation in clinical trials.
The medical cannabis law of the government is awaiting its second reading in Parliament.
Once approved, rules will be set around the standards for the manufacture, import and delivery of medicinal cannabis products.