Aldo Miccio, Medical Kiwi: NZ: “Because the industry is so new, we purposefully wanted to be a seed-to-prescription company”
By: Elvira Oosterbaan, MMJ Daily.
“With the New Zealand market being new and reasonably small, we knew that our predominant market was going to be overseas. While a large part of our business is focused on export, we also want to help along our domestic market. Therefore, we set up clinics and a telehealth platform to provide access to knowledgeable medical practitioners that prescribe medicinal cannabis,” says Aldo Miccio, Chair and Co-Founder of Medical Kiwi. On top of what they have already achieved with The Pain Clinic, there is much more left in store for the company’s near future. They are about to export their first cannabis into Germany and are working on introducing botanical novel compounds into their medicines. “We want our products to have unique compositions.”
The first steps
Medical Kiwi was founded in 2018, right after the New Zealand legislation went through Parliament. From the start, the company had export as their primary view, Miccio explains. “The New Zealand cannabis market is reasonably small, so we were also focused on Europe and Australia.” With their goal of high-quality cannabis established, they retrofitted a large warehouse for their indoor production. The company is currently GACP certified and is about to get their GMP certification. To adhere to these standards, their facility is technologically advanced and highly controlled. “We use LED lighting systems, along with the Priva control system and HVAC systems, to ensure that our production is optimal. We are the only company in New Zealand that doesn’t need to irradiate their flowers for export, as we use the EnWave dryer, which reduces the bioburden enough for the European standards. In about a month, we will have our first export of flower to Germany, after which we will have a regular supply into the European market.”
Last year, Medical Kiwi acquired Hardie Health, a company that has a number of botanical novel compounds. “Many of their compounds are from botanical plants found in the Solomon Islands. Being able to use this is very beneficial for us, as we can now have extra compounds that target similar conditions as cannabis, but provide us with unique compositions. While Medical Kiwi is focused on cannabis, we want to use supporting botanical medicines to get a point of difference in our medicines. We’re currently still working hard on it and will probably have our first botanical medicines in about a year,” says Miccio. Moreover, one of the major shareholders in Hardie Health is Victoria University’s research branch, called Ferrier Research Institute. “Therefore, we believe that the acquisition gives us a strong position to add value to the cannabis market.”
On top of that, the company opened two clinics in New Zealand and are about to do the same in Australia. Miccio explains that this is a welcome introduction to the new cannabis market. “New Zealand is only two years into its medical cannabis industry. A lot of GPs are not familiar yet with prescribing cannabis, which is a challenge for the industry. By setting up The Pain Clinics and the telehealth platform and getting our own GPs on board, we can control that aspect ourselves. Patients now have access to knowledgeable practitioners that can assess and prescribe specifically for their health condition.” In just a couple of months, The Pain Clinic will be expanded into Australia as well.
The adult-use market
Medical Kiwi is also getting ready for the European adult-use market. The company sees this as a big opportunity, as there is no adult-use market in New Zealand or Australia. “We are focused on the German market, specifically, and are currently working with consultants. We believe there is consumer value in Germany for New Zealand grown adult-use cannabis. In order to meet that prospective demand, we are in the process of scaling another cultivation facility.”
Miccio explains that New Zealand had a binding referendum for the legalization of adult-use cannabis two years ago, which lost with 50.7% of voters opposing the legalization. “Some people got their medical cultivation licenses to be ready for the adult-use market. However, that fell through, and the producers weren’t geared up for GACP standards.” As it is a challenge to scale to the demand that there is, Medical Kiwi has been selecting some of the good growers, helping them get their product to GACP standards, and working with them. “When drying and packaging their products through our EnWave dryer, the products meet the GMP standards. As a result, once the German regulations are established, we will be in a good position to have niche New Zealand adult-use cannabis to be exported. While the regulations are of course not yet established, we are assuming that the adult-use products are going to be held accountable to the same standards as medicinal cannabis.”
“Because the industry is so new, we purposefully wanted to be a seed-to-prescription company. Still, that might not be what we look like in two or three years. The industry is developing fast, and a certain area of the vertical integration may become less interesting or profitable. Therefore, we are keeping ourselves open to be flexible and react quickly to the changes in the industry. Overall, we are passionate about what we do and want to continue making high-quality medical cannabis more accessible,” Miccio adds.
For more information: