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Cannabis ‘rebrand’ campaign launches nationwide

Monday, 17 December 2018

The first ever advertising campaign from a licensed New Zealand cannabis company has launched with the intention to rebrand cannabis, following legislation passing in Parliament last week.

Helius Therapeutics is now running billboards throughout New Zealand’s main centres with nationwide newspaper advertisements scheduled in the New Year.

Paul Manning, Executive Director of Helius Therapeutics, says the campaign is designed to shine a light on cannabis as a medicine, encourage education and awareness, and show that it is supported by people of all walks of life, who New Zealanders can identify with.

Under the headline ‘Cannabis is medicine’ the campaign features eight real Kiwis who are a cross-section of patients, advocates, entrepreneurs, and parents.

“These eight New Zealanders passionately support medicinal cannabis and each have their own story to tell. The truth is, it will be everyday people who use medicinal cannabis, which will soon become a very mainstream product.

“Our current focus is on research and developing cannabis therapeutics. We have no products to sell right now, but it is our responsibility to use the resources we have to provide education. Cannabis needs a rebrand. Despite over 80% of Kiwis supporting widespread access to cannabis for medicinal purposes, we still have a job to do when it comes to addressing stigma,” says Mr Manning.

The campaign officially launched on Monday morning with the switching on of central Auckland’s largest digital billboard on the corner of Anzac Avenue and Beach Road, along with many other sites across the country.

It follows the Government passing The Misuse of Drugs (Medicinal Cannabis) Amendment Bill last week, setting the way for the creation of a medicinal cannabis scheme that will allow New Zealand companies like Helius to manufacture medicinal cannabis products for both the local and international markets. Regulations, licensing rules and quality standards will be set on expert advice within a year. The company’s licensed ‘New Zealand Grown’ medicinal cannabis products are expected to be available to patients by 2020.

With the country’s regulatory environment changing, Helius is now moving ahead to research and develop new cannabis-based therapeutics. As New Zealand’s largest licensed medicinal cannabis company, it is determined to set the standard for effective and accessible medicinal cannabis products, both here and overseas.

Mr Manning says the voices of mainstream New Zealanders will again need to be heard in the New Year with the Ministry of Health set to release a consultation paper, asking for public input on the design of the medicinal cannabis regulations.

“Just like the passionate Kiwis in our campaign, we will again need people to have their say in the coming months on the pending regulations and scheme for medicinal cannabis. The bill may have passed but the process is by no means over, with the manual now to be written,” he says.

The eight Kiwis in Helius’ campaign are: Katy Thomas (blogger behind WellFitMum, TV presenter and influencer whose son has severe epilepsy); Pearl Schomberg (a prominent medical cannabis advocate and driving force behind Auckland Patients Group); Emmelene Pryce (mother whose child suffers from epilepsy); Neville Findlay (Zambesi founder and medical cannabis supporter); Helene Ravlich (mum, writer and breast cancer survivor); Grace Boyle (marketer and medical cannabis advocate), Myken Stewart (New Zealand Fashion Week founder and endometriosis sufferer), and Danny Battershill (cannabis patient suffering from severe autoimmune eczema).

“This campaign honours those New Zealanders who have been prepared to stand up for medicinal cannabis access. These people, and thousands of others, are courageous enough to share their stories.

“Medicinal cannabis is not about people getting high. It’s about people feeling healthier. And we’re hoping our campaign will be a conversation-starter over the holidays,” says Paul Manning.

-- ENDS –

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