Green is the New Black

Green is the New Black
  • Written by
  • Deepika Sulekh

“As an entrepreneur what could be more exciting than a start-up business in a formerly illicit industry where you get to make a demonstrably and measurably positive impact on people’s lives.”

– Mark Mees, CEO, SETEK Therapeutics

Legalising cannabis production has always been a contentious issue. A plant that has been prohibited and scrutinised, branded with a biased public perception and a lack of understanding of its real advantages – medicinal benefits. But is it possible to achieve this ethically? Yes, says SETEK Therapeutics, Taupō-based medicinal cannabis producer – and the only New Zealand company that has ruled out any involvement in the production of flower or ‘loose leaf’ for smoking.

SETEK Therapeutics emerged in late 2017 as a business collaboration between Mark Mees and chief operating officer, David Pearce.

“From the outset, our vision was to become New Zealand’s lowest cost-provider of pharmaceutical grade, 100% NZ certified organic cannabis-based medicines,” says Mark.

Following a rigorous process to obtain the license, SETEK are currently in their research phase, developing and stabilising the genetics to be grown, alongside commencing the design of their new, state-of-the-art good manufacturing practice (GMP) medical cannabis facility. With the facility expected to be complete by August 2020, the team are on track for a product launch in late 2020. Treatment areas include intractable pain, depression, anxiety, as well as specific illnesses such as cancer, Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, and several spasticity disorders.

SETEK are now the fourth company in New Zealand to receive a license to grow cannabis for research and development, and only the second granted permission to grow high THC cultivars.

SETEK Co Founders David Pearce Mark MeesSETEK Co-Founders David Pearce & Mark Mees

Supporting Local

Why Taupō? Along with its central location providing an ideal logistics and distribution hub in New Zealand, it also aligns perfectly with SETEK’s social responsibility goals and is key to their international branding strategy.

“Keeping it local also aligns with local Iwi / Hapu aspirations for the return of tangata whenua to their ancestral lands. If you are going to do that you need a model that includes the creation of sustainable jobs,” explains David. “There are also several factors unique to our location which will help SETEK to achieve its goal of becoming Oceania’s – and one of the world’s – first net-carbon-neutral indoor cannabis companies.”

A Taupō base also means the creation of over 100 jobs locally, potentially increasing to 250 or more as new opportunities in the natural health and nutraceutical markets open up.

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