Thu, Nov 11, 2021 9:26 AM

Cannabis company recognised across the ditch

Puro cultivation director Tom Forrest at their Wairau Valley medicinal cannabis facility. Photo: Supplied.

Matt Brown

A Marlborough medicinal cannabis company has scooped two awards in an Australian competition.

Puro, which has farms in Kekerengu and the Wairau Valley and is New Zealand’s largest cultivator of medicinal cannabis, was awarded Cultivator of the Year award at the 2021 Australian Cannabis Industry Awards.

Puro cultivation director Tom Forrest says it’s nice to start seeing some recognition, especially across the ditch.

The Melbourne-based cannabis advocate says the award stems from Puro’s incredible team of tenacious, intelligent kiwis – with full credit going to the Puro team on the ground.

“They’ve had to be creative with their thinking in a new industry, had to be creative to succeed and find new solutions to problems that previously didn’t exist,” Tom says.

“It’s crazy how fast it’s all going.”

The awards honour cannabis community pioneers and business professionals deserving recognition for industry innovation and social progression.

Like pavlova or Phar Lap, Tom jokes if Puro continues to perform at this pace, Australians will claim it as their own.

The 31-year-old was also honoured at the awards, receiving Advocate of the Year in the fledgling industry.

The first person to receive a Winston Churchill Fellowship Trust for cannabis agronomy in 2018, Tom published a white paper and a documentary about cannabis cultivation in 2019 where he visited 50 cultivation facilities across eight countries.

“As a recipient of an award in an industry’s infancy, I’m honoured,” he says.

Getting his start in aquaponics, Tom has been working in protected cropping, controlled environment agriculture for eight years.

Tom says New Zealand’s more “pragmatic” laws mean the company has a large following in Australia.

“In Australia, it takes about 24-36 months to get a license and permit, and you essentially have to build a fortress.

“It’s a massive barrier to entry.

“There are regimented secrecy requirements.

“Whereas New Zealand treats it as agriculture with a health board oversight.

“There’s still a lot of red tape, but it’s a more pragmatic approach.”

Tom says Puro is a leader in the cannabis industry, in both New Zealand and Australia, and with organic certification recently given to their farms in another first, they aim to lead sustainably.

“We’re the only one [to have organic certification] and people take note of that.

Puro are certified to grow organic medicinal cannabis plants at Kekerengu this coming summer.

“With tens of thousands of seedlings already underway, it’s going to be a sensational summer for the Puro team.

“I think to lead an industry sustainably is really quite powerful.

“I’m proud of what we’re doing; as a culture, a business and in agriculture.

“It’s incredible to see the growth of the NZ industry and the benefits this can bring to a regional economy like Marlborough

“We’re leading the way.”