High hopes: New Zealand cannabis start-up seeks $20 million in funding

24 January 2019 Consultancy.com.au

A New Zealand-based start-up that allows easier access to medical marijuana, Zeacann, is seeking to raise $20 million in growth funding. The company, formerly known as PharmaCann, has tapped consultants from PwC to oversee the capital-raising process. 

Zeacann is an online portal that allows pharmacists and health practitioners to order high-quality cannabis products from around the world, as well as locally, when infrastructure (and product) is in place to support such demand.

The start-up's name change was not without meaning. “[It] was actually geared to be more acceptable to a conservative regime with law reform off the agenda,” Chris Fowlie, Zeacann co-founder, said in an interview with New Zealand-based publication The Register. When a more liberal government took hold, however, and introduced legislation to make medical marijuana legal, PharmaCann rebranded. “Our new branding reflects our New Zealand origin and our status as a top-tier company representing the best cannabis that can be produced here.” 

The potential for global operations also played a part in the name change – when people think of New Zealand, they think of green, of lushness, of nature. That’s potentially an international selling point for New Zealand weed.

“The New Zealand market is by itself fairly small, so we’re targeting countries like Canada, where it has just become legal, as well as 20 other countries around the world that have legal cannabis markets,” Fowile said in an interview with The New Zealand Herald.

New Zealand cannabis start-up seeks $20 million in funding

New Zealand recently passed a law that allows for broader use of medical marijuana, which was previously highly restricted. The law also allows terminally ill patients to begin smoking illegal cannabis immediately, as well as puts the gears in motion for local companies to grow and distribute cannabis products locally and internationally, according to The Guardian.

The New Zealand cannabis industry “is being touted as a potential game-changer for deprived Maori communities on the east coast of the North Island, who hope to turn the thriving illegal industry into a thriving legal one,” the article states. The government has pledged to hold a referendum on the legalisation of recreational marijuana in the coming two years.

The New Zealand cannabis industry is in a phase of rapid growth, with companies such as Helius Therapeutics, Hikurangi Cannabis Company, and Cannasouth attempting to stake a claim in the burgeoning market. There seems to be no lack of consumer interest, either. A recent study in the US revealed that 76% of people would try therapeutic cannabis products – those containing CBD, which do not give the user a “high” – while 55% surveyed said they would try recreational cannabis, should it become legal. 

A cannabis HR network, which will help cannabis human resources professionals communicate and collaborate, was officially launched at the Lift & Co Cannabis Business Expo in Vancouver, Canada, on January 11.

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