The New Zealand Drug Foundation said New Zealand’s medical cannabis industry would face competition from overseas medical cannabis companies.
But three United Nations drug treaties prevent the global trade in non-medical cannabis – which can be used for recreation – if New Zealand laws change about recreational marijuana use.
Thai drug company has told RNZ Its low import prices could ultimately weaken New Zealand’s cannabis market, and investors were not properly warned.
The executive director of the drug foundation Ross Bell said it was important for people to understand that the products used in medicinal cannabis could be imported and exported, meaning New Zealand producers could join the global industry, and they could also face competition from overseas medical cannabis companies.
“But when it comes to recreational cannabis, including if we legalize it by referendum, there are three UN drug treaties that don’t allow the global trade in non-medical cannabis.”
The Ministry of Health says that medicinal cannabis products, except for CBD products, are controlled drugs under the Drug Abuse Act of 1975. Drug cannabis licensees also require import or export license of controlled drugs if they intend to: Import cannabis seeds, starting materials, cannabis base ingredients or medicinal cannabis products, and export cannabis starting materials, cannabis base ingredients or medicinal cannabis products.
New Zealand’s Agency for Business and Economic Research Berl told RNZ that it understands that “there is no intention (or permission) to import any product except the cannabis seed”.
Thai Cannabis Corporation’s vice president of marketing has questioned Berl’s statement that “low priced products will be excluded”.
Jim Plamondon said it was “in stark contrast to the New Zealand-Thailand Closer Economic Partnership, which is the applicable law for such a medical cannabis trade.
“New Zealand cannot exclude Thai medical cannabis exports on the basis of low prices, or deny the market share that naturally attracts those low prices, through quotas, tariffs or non-tariff trade barriers.” he says.
Bell says commercial interests drive their own, and the confusion is clear because of the stage of the industry, but the prospects for New Zealand’s medical cannabis industry are attractive.
“There are some players who get licensed and who fund a lot, and investors are getting very excited about the prospect.
“New Zealand’s medical marijuana industry will compete with the global industry and there are several large companies in North America – particularly Canada, that can compete with New Zealand.”
Bell said there are also emerging markets, such as Thailand that may be able to produce medical marijuana much cheaper, but still have to meet strict New Zealand pharmaceutical standards.