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New Zealand’s first medicinal cannabis summit announced

BioTechNZ has announced New Zealand’s first international medicinal cannabis summit, aiming to provide a catalyst for Kiwis to maximise opportunities in the country’s newest sector.

MedCan 2020 will take place on Thursday, 19 March 2020 at Sky City Convention Centre, signalling the launch of New Zealand’s regulated medical cannabis market next year.

“The purpose of MedCan 2020 is to promote a world-class cannabis industry for New Zealand, that thrives from the outset. This summit marks a significant national effort, providing an enormous opportunity for the industry’s many and varied stakeholders,” says Dr Zahra Champion, Executive Director of BioTechNZ.

As summit organiser, BioTechNZ is working closely with government agencies, universities, research institutes, and industry. A summit advisory group has also been established which includes representatives from MBIE and Callaghan Innovation.

MedCan 2020’s three pillars are medicine, science, and technology. Open to everyone, the summit aims to bring people together to learn about medicinal cannabis from local and international thought leaders in these areas.

This landmark event will empower all audiences who seek to unlock the social, economic, and clinical potential of medicinal cannabis.

Industry stakeholders will learn about the business of cannabis, world markets, new technologies, and international research. Patients will discover how cannabis is being used to treat many different conditions, and how products are accessed in New Zealand. Healthcare professionals will receive accredited education covering everything from prescribing and dispensing medicinal cannabis, to the current body of evidence and safety considerations.

“Medicinal cannabis is attracting major investment in New Zealand and will create new skills, so knowledge and collaboration are critical. Cannabis-based medicines have extraordinary potential to improve people’s quality of life, as well as fuel economic growth, and contribute hundreds of millions of dollars to the country’s export earnings,” says Dr Champion.

She believes unlocking the potential of medicinal cannabis is fundamentally a biotechnology challenge, which aligns to BioTechNZ’s purpose to make New Zealand cleaner, healthier and more productive. Key to the emerging industry’s success, she says, will be the close support of world-leading research, science, and innovation.

Representing the biotechnology community, BioTechNZ is an NGO and part of the New Zealand Tech Alliance.

“BioTechNZ aims to maximise New Zealand’s bioscience and technology capability. We see significant opportunities to leverage New Zealand’s natural plant genetic varieties, highly regarded research expertise, as well as the country’s positive brand,” she says.

With Sky City Convention Centre’s venue capacity of 500-plus people, MedCan 2020 will include acclaimed international speakers to share knowledge and educate stakeholders, healthcare professionals, academics, researchers, patients, and industry.

Helius Therapeutics has signed up as MedCan 2020’s foundation sponsor. Helius is New Zealand’s largest licenced medicinal cannabis biotechnology company, focused on research and development.

“We’re proud to support New Zealand’s first medicinal cannabis summit. MedCan 2020 will not only be a catalyst for New Zealand’s burgeoning industry, but a truly exciting and educational event for everyone. It’s great to have BioTechNZ leading the charge and unifying stakeholders to deliver a comprehensive and exciting programme,” says Paul Manning, Chief Executive Officer of Helius Therapeutics.

“Globally, I believe New Zealand will become a centre of excellence for medicinal cannabis innovation. MedCan 2020 will help launch and inspire this wonderful new industry,” says Mr Manning.

The announcement of MedCan 2020 comes as New Zealand gears up ahead of medicinal cannabis becoming more widely accessible from next year, with the country’s Medicinal Cannabis Scheme to be finalised in the coming months. Regulations are expected to be enacted around March next year, coinciding with the inaugural MedCan summit.

The summit’s keynote speakers and programme will be announced in the coming weeks. Prospective participants and attendees to MedCan 2020 are encouraged to register their interest via

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