Well here we are!
Firstly, I am so excited I can finally talk about this with you. Talk about this thing that has loomed large over my life for quite some time now. It has been such an adventure getting here, and it is great to finally be at a point where we can now start talking about all that we have achieved.
The idea for NUBU Pharmaceuticals came to me while I was working at Newstalk ZB. As those of you that have listened to talkback radio will know, it is a rarity for everyone’s viewpoints to align on a particular topic. Perhaps as rare as unicorns? However, on this afternoon, that is exactly what happened. My radio co-host Kerre and I had decided we would discuss medicinal cannabis. It had frequently been in the news, mainly following Helen Kelly’s fight to access medicinal cannabis to ease the effects of her terminal lung cancer.
As a somewhat progressive issue, I was expecting the usual afternoon of, some for, some against. I couldn’t have been more wrong. Straight away we had people calling, texting, emailing, and sharing heart wrenching stories about family members and friends suffering horribly, with cannabis the only thing that eased their pain. Cannabis that, due to current regulations (or lack thereof), had to be sourced from the black market. Meaning upstanding citizens were having to become criminals to allay the pain of a loved one.
Unanimous is not a word I can use to describe any other day of talkback that I have been involved with. But it perfectly describes that afternoon in early 2016. Everyone, literally everyone, that contributed to the show wanted the same thing. Greater access to medicinal cannabis products.
This impassioned response stuck with me. And so, at a dinner that weekend at my friend (and now business partner) Will Douglas’ house, the initial conversations of what would become NUBU Pharmaceuticals began.
Internationally, cannabis was having a re-birth of sorts. Countries one after another were legalising cannabis for medicinal purposes, states in the US were following suit even faster. Will and I figured this movement would eventually reach New Zealand, and if we started researching the business now, by the time it did, we would be well positioned to be at the forefront of the industry.
And guess what? All of the above has happened.
All those catch ups, all those emails, all those calls, to suppliers, consultants and industry experts, formed the foundations of NUBU Pharmaceuticals.
Back in 2016 there was only one medicinal cannabis-based (or CBD) product available in New Zealand, and that came with a price tag of $1200 p/m. Horrendously expensive by anyone’s measure, and without a doubt priced out of reach for the majority of New Zealanders.
Having seen similar formulas retail in the US and Canada for a tenth of the price, Will and I knew that we’d stumbled onto an opportunity. Not only from a business sense, but, (and more importantly), an opportunity to help the thousands of people throughout New Zealand who were already using cannabis for medicinal purposes, and the tens of thousands who potentially could.
And although this no doubt reads like PR spin, an attempt at marketing and/or me trying to pitch my company in a certain light, it isn’t. Helping people is at the core of this business, and has been since day one.
Accessible, reputable and clinically effective medicinal cannabis products to the New Zealand market has been the goal, and still is. And the exciting thing is, we are already having an impact.
Although legislation to allow the development of a local medicinal cannabis industry is but weeks away, there is a need for medicinal cannabis now. The same issues outlined on ZB that afternoon a couple of years ago, still exist.
Will and I set out to find an international partner to work and start a conversation with, about the price of CBD in New Zealand.
We found that partner in MCG Pharmaceuticals – one of Europe’s leading cannabinoid-based pharmaceutical companies.
It is our aim to herald in a new era of lower costs, through competitive pricing and increased market accessibility. The wholesale price of CBD products has fallen by 20% over recent months and we expect this to drop further in the future.
Of course, NUBU Pharmaceuticals wants and plans to be a part of the production of medicinal cannabis products locally, and we are eagerly waiting the Misuse of Drugs (Medicinal Cannabis) Amendment Bill currently going through Parliament.
We have spent the last two years working with local and international experts designing our future grow and manufacture facilities. Both are state-of-the-art.
We wish to grow cannabis organically and sustainably – I could hardly have harped on about being sustainable and ‘going green’ for the last decade, to then turnaround and set up a business that did the opposite, huh?
We are currently working through our organic certification, and hope to have that sorted so as our very first grow can be stamped ‘organic’.
NUBU Pharmaceutical’s cannabis would be grown in a greenhouse, utilising the natural energy of the sun (as opposed to indoors under energy intensive lights), water will be recycled and recirculated to reduce our water consumption, and many other opportunities to reduce waste and recycle have been incorporated into many other areas of the business. Of course, as new opportunities arise to save energy, reduce waste and/or reduce our impact on the environment, they will be adopted.
As a company, we see huge opportunity for New Zealand with regards to cannabis. As a country, so much of our expertise lies in the production of primary exports. There is no reason why cannabis can’t be yet another feather in that bow. And so, along with everything else that is going on, we have also been working on a number of export opportunities with local and international partners.
I’ll be able to speak more about that in the coming months.
But there we go, you now know what I have been up to. I have been setting up a medicinal cannabis company. Who saw that coming? From radio to pharmaceuticals. Not exactly a liner career path, but hey, sometimes life works in mysterious ways*.
The opportunity to build a business from the ground up - in an entirely new industry, learn a whole new set of skills, and (and most importantly), effect positive change in peoples lives, really is a once in a lifetime.
As I said at the start, it has been an incredibly exciting couple of years pulling this together, and with the legislation to allow us to really get started just a few weeks away, the best really is yet to come…
*and just briefly for those of you thinking, “why on earth would I trust a guy that used to work on the radio to deliver medicine for me?”, rest assured it won’t be me! NUBU Pharmaceuticals is made up of a team of experts from a multitude of areas, pharmaceuticals, business, cannabis, marketing, I am just one half of the equation that sat in house in West Auckland one Saturday afternoon in 2016 and thought it wise to start a medicinal cannabis company.
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