A few years ago, if you had suggested to former Nelson Mayor Aldo Miccio that he would be attempting to start a large cannabis grow operation in the foothills of Brightwater, he would have laughed.
“It would be like a joke you tell around the table at the pub.”
But now he is serious.
Established in December 2018, Medical Kiwi is a medicinal research company, created to take advantage of the global opportunity that medicinal cannabis represents. The Ministry of Health has just granted the Nelson-based company the first South Island license to cultivate cannabis for medicinal use.
“For the last couple of years it had been on my radar,” says Aldo.
But then he met with a large Canadian company and he got to understanding the business model and the potential of the market. Aldo reckons it is huge and forecasts Medical Kiwi employing upwards of 200 people and turning over $100 million in its first year of full production.
Globally, the medicinal cannabis industry is forecast to be worth USD $150 billion by 2025.
Aldo has a team on board, including scientist Mike Packard, who works for the Cawthron Institute and says the vision is that everyone who could benefit from medicinal cannabis products can access and afford them.
Aldo says that the perception around medicinal cannabis is still in its infancy but will soon change as more evidence comes out for its efficacy. He says that such products will eventually be in supermarkets around the country.
But before then he has plans to build an 8,000 –10,000 m2 facility in Brightwater to start growing cannabis. To do that he needs to raise money so is putting the call out to potential investors to bring in $7.5 million and eventually a further $15 million.
They will then create oils, sprays and creams that Aldo says they will sell for half the price of what current competitors can.
“This is a great thing to bring to Nelson – as a business model and also creating high margin products that can create high paying jobs for the region.”