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Challenges Around Medicinal Cannabis Education

17 April 2019

Former Associate Health Minister Cautions Challenges Around Medicinal Cannabis Public and Clinician Education

SETEK Therapeutics, a Taupo-based medical cannabis company has cautioned that public education and helping the medical profession to better understand medicinal cannabis will be a key challenge.

Chair of the SETEK Advisory Board and former Associate Health Minister Peter Dunne says there are significant challenges surrounding attitudes and views towards cannabis-based medicine from both the public and the medical profession.

SETEK became the fourth company to receive a licence from the Ministry of Health to cultivate cannabis plants, and only the second to receive permission to grow high THC cultivars for research in what is projected globally to be an $11 billion medical cannabis industry by 2022.

Mr Dunne says: “There seems to be this public perception that cannabis-based medicines are the new panacea that will cure any health issues, this is not the case.”

“But cannabis-based medicines will be hugely beneficial for a number of medical conditions, including those suffering from intractable pain and spasticity disorders.

“Significant work will be required to help the medical profession better understand how medicinal cannabis products can benefit the treatment of their patients,” says Mr Dunne.

Mr Dunne took up his position with the company in September 2018.

“I joined SETEK because I was not only impressed with their vision and plans to build a successful international business, but also their genuine focus on helping people,” says Mr Dunne.

SETEK was founded in 2018 by Taupo businessman David Pearce and Mark Mees, with the aim of becoming New Zealand’s leading cultivator and producer of medical cannabis products.

SETEK Therapeutics is the only New Zealand company to preclude any involvement in the production of flower or loose leaf for smoking.

SETEK Chief Executive Mark Mees says the company fully supports the government’s Aotearoa New Zealand 2025 Smokefree goal, and in fact there are a number of healthier and more effective ways to consume medical cannabis.

The Government’s cannabis regulations are expected to be completed by the end of 2019, with associated licensing, audit and compliance functions completed by mid-2020 which Mr Mees says will signify the start of the cannabis market in New Zealand.

SETEK recently secured a 26-hectare block of land in Taupo to establish its operational plant, which is expected to create more than 100 jobs for the local economy.

Mr Mees says SETEK has been methodical and deliberate about its development and looking ahead three to five years, it aims to have built a successful commercial operation and established itself as one of the world’s leading medical cannabis brands.

“This is a complex, rapidly evolving new industry that doesn’t even have a regulatory framework yet, but we have already seen the failure of several New Zealand start-ups before they’ve got out of the starting blocks,” he says.

Mr Mees says SETEK aims to have its first products on the market by the end of 2020.

“We have always been more concerned with doing it right than getting there first, as we aim to become New Zealand’s most trusted and lowest cost-provider of pharmaceutical-grade, 100% New Zealand-certified organic medical cannabis products,” says Mr Mees.


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