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On The Pharm: Ora Pharm makes major progress towards medicinal cannabis license

by | Oct 21, 2020

Ora Pharm has passed an important milestone in its application for a medicinal cannabis license in New Zealand.

The Ministry of Health’s Medicinal Cannabis Agency completed a desktop assessment of Ora Pharm’s application to cultivate, supply and manufacture medicinal cannabis products in August.

“It’s a great feeling. That’s such a big hurdle for us to get over and it just proves we’re on the right track,” says Ora Pharm founder and CEO Zoe Reece.

“It’s our goal to set the benchmark for the medicinal cannabis industry in New Zealand and this is an important step towards achieving that.”

A desktop assessment is a review of all the paperwork required for a medicinal cannabis license.

The next step in the application process is a location inspection, which will take place once the first phase of construction is completed.


Construction is underway

The first phase of construction of Ora Pharm’s state-of-the-art facility is well underway on our North Waikato farm.

The support building, which will be used as a processing area for dried plant material, has been closed in and is ready for fitting out.

After being on the farm for a year now and dreaming of the company even longer, it’s incredibly rewarding to see the facility starting to take shape.

Our specialised greenhouse, developed in the United States, is currently being shipped to New Zealand and is expected to be up and running in November.

“We’re really excited about the greenhouse. It utilises proven technology and is used by leading cannabis companies in the US,” Reece says.

“Knowing that the greenhouse is producing such great results elsewhere gives us a lot of confidence and puts Ora Pharm in a really strong position right from the outset.”

Once the greenhouse is constructed and the Ministry of Health approves Ora Pharm’s license, we can start growing our first crop and mother stock.

“We’re hoping to put our first cannabis plants in the ground in January. That will be a special moment. I think that’s when it will feel real.”


Seed funding secured

We’re also pleased to announce that our seed fundraising has been a success.

Despite the challenges of raising capital during the COVID-19 lockdown in New Zealand, Ora Pharm has attracted a diverse group of investors who are excited about the company.

“We are lucky to have a fantastic mix of investors who each bring unique skill sets that are going to help us grow,” Reece says.

Ora Pharm raised enough capital from the seed round to build the facilities and secure our medical cannabis license.


Governance board established

Ora Pharm’s governance board has been finalised and we’re thrilled with the talented team we’ve assembled.

The chair of the board is Stuart Wilcox, the former COO and SVP of Curaleaf, the largest cannabis operator in the US.

“Stuart was my manager during my time working at Curaleaf and he’s a trusted mentor” Reece says.

“Having someone with his business savvy and experience in the cannabis industry on the board is such an advantage for Ora Pharm.”

The other board members are Nadia Scott, a commercial marketing expert who’s worked with global brands; Mark Matthews, who has decades of executive-level experience in the healthcare and natural products industries in New Zealand; and Jason Rogers, a Professional Director and Investment Specialist with extensive experience working with iwi settlement trusts, private companies and joint ventures.

Reece says they are all committed to Ora Pharm’s vision of creating New Zealand’s premium medicinal cannabis and empowering patients to reclaim their wellness and improve their quality of life.

“We couldn’t ask for a better team. It’s immensely satisfying to know the company’s in such capable hands and we’re honoured to have them on board.”

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