Maori residents in New Zealand are experiencing financial difficulties entering the medical cannabis industry.
A meeting in Wellington, New Zealand, known as a hui in Maori culture, discussed the fairness of licensing fees and questions about whether Maori looking to get into the industry would be supported financially.
A cultivation license in New Zealand currently costs $8,000 (NZ), plus the additional costs of building up the business. Ministry of Health Maori Service Improvement Manager Eugene Rewi, however, claimed the fees are fair. “My understanding of the fees are, there’s no fat involved in the fees; it’s actually about a fee for service because there is auditing requirements … administration that need to be adhered to. Is this a hinderance for some—I think definitely—so maybe whanau need to look at other avenues, whether they join up as a group, or if their strength is in one particular area, then maybe they concentrate on that.”
Ngati Hinerangi Trustee Chris Wilson added that he wanted to see if funding would be possible.
“When we were listening to the lady talk about just setting up your facility, already there’s $100,000 cost involved so for Maori that’s already a hindrance and how can we get over the transferring of those sorts of fees,” he told RNZ. “I guess, if we’re to look at it from an iwi point of view, they would have that type of money, they’re in that space coming through settlements.”
Some Maori residents like Roxanne want to make a career in cannabis, as long as the country can figure out how to make it more affordable. “I will be honest, I am the product and generation that sold cannabis in the black market – for bread, for milk, school uniforms – I think for most of our life actually,” she said. “The dairy industry is killing us as a people, our land, our water, but we need to have an alternative, we need to create jobs because most of our families, most of our friends rely on the dairy industry to pay our rent.”
Another workshop will be held on March 10 to talk about Maori people becoming stakeholders in the cannabis industry.