A bid to turn Marlborough into New Zealand’s largest medical cannabis producer has topped half a million dollars in just a few days.
Puro launched a fundraising campaign on Wednesday, selling shares in the fledgling company for $1each.
Less than four days later 168 people had pledged $610, 293.
Company bosses say the business is on track to become the first company to grow medical cannabis and hemp in Marlborough.
Puro director Sank Macfarlane says the company intended to grow medicinal cannabis in greenhouses in the Waihopai Valley and high-CBD (cannabidiol) hemp in Kekerengu, on the coast between Blenheim and Kaikōura.
“The feedback we’ve had so far has been incredibly positive – there’s a real mood out there that it’s medical cannabis’ time.
“But we’re not there yet – while we’ve raised enough capital to get started, we need more investment if we’re going to achieve what we’ve set out to do,” he says.
Puro is looking to raise $2 to $4 million through crowdfunding and an additional $2 million through wholesale investors.
A minimum of $500 dollars is being asked for by investors.
The unique microclimates are ideal for growing high end cannabis says the company’s cultivation director Tom Forrest.
“Marlborough is ideal for growing cannabis on a large commercial scale.
“We believe the local climate, summer daylight hours, intensity and quality of light spectrum will provide a perfect location for healthy, high potency, flavourful cannabis.
“Combined with the existing farming expertise from the wine sector and local agricultural resources, Marlborough will make as fantastic location for commercial cannabis cultivation,” he says.
Puro secured a licence from the Ministry of Health for medicinal cannabis at the Waihopai Valley site.
The licence would be for research purposes only until the medical cannabis scheme is rubber-stamped.
The Ministry of Health will need Cabinet approval on the regulatory proposals which could see the proposed Medicinal Cannabis Scheme up and running by April next year.
“Cannabis is one of the oldest used medicines in history, says Thomas.
“Written evidence dates back thousands of years showing proven medical efficacy and usage for a vast range of serious ailments, alongside safe recreational use in many different cultures worldwide.
“Legal cannabis provides a valuable commodity for farmers and wide range of economic opportunities.
“Legalisation helps with socioeconomic challenges and is shown to decrease societal harms from hard drug use.”
A sick pre-schooler is being tested for measles amid fears the outbreak has reached Marlborough.
The youngster, who attends a Blenheim preschool, fell ill displaying some of the symptoms of the potentially deadly illness.
Test results are expected back later this week.
Nelson Marlborough District Health Public Health have sent an advisory letter to all parents with children at the preschool, warning them of the possibility.
Nelson Marlborough Public Health Service’s Medical Officer of Health Dr Andrew Lindsay warned the disease is difficult to contain.
“This is the biggest outbreak in more than 20 years, with more than 800 cases to date.
“This is a serious, life-threatening disease that is very, very difficult to contain – as we’re seeing in Auckland.”
The virus, which spreads through the air is very infectious.
Keeping suspected cases in isolation is key, says Dr Lindsay.
“The last case of measles in our region was in November 2018, unrelated to the current outbreak.
“The person was placed in home isolation before reaching the point that they become infectious to others, and as a result no-one else caught measles. This demonstrates the importance of isolation,” Dr Lindsay says
As the country faces its biggest outbreak in 20 years, the number of tests for the highly contagious disease continue to rise.
Staff across the region are taking no chances when it comes to ruling out the potentially deadly disease.
There were a total of 16 suspected cases Nelson and Marlborough in September bringing the total number of suspected cases notified by GPs to the Nelson Marlborough Public Health Service for 2019 to 38.
Nelson Marlborough is one of just four district health boards across the country to be currently measles-free.
Programmes Manager – clinical services and integration, Marlborough Primary Health Organisation Glenis McAlpine says that the isolation of any measles cases is critical.
Parents need to be vigilant and check their children’s Well Child immunisation record (Plunket book) to see if their child is immunised.
If in doubt, they should call their GP or practice nurse to check their immunisation status, he says.
“Children and adults need to have had two doses of the MMR vaccine to be fully immunised, but one dose of MMR provides 95 per cent protection,” says Dr Lindsay.
If you have any questions about the vaccine, contact your GP, practice nurse or the Immunisation Advisory Centre on 0800 IMMUNE.
September is World Alzheimers Month. Below, a husband talks about his wife’s diagnosis and how it has changed their lives.
There are still many good days, moments the devoted couple of 60 years can enjoy ordinary moments they used to take for granted.
For a Marlborough husband and wife, who asked not to be named, an uneventful trip to the supermarket, or even watching TV and laughing together has taken on a special significance.
A diagnosis of Alzheimers for the wife earlier this year changed both their lives in an instance.
“It’s a real defining point, especially for the patient, I hate that word, but use it anyway.
“Once that word, Alzheimers, comes up, you’ve crossed the Rubicon and can’t go back. It took a year to come to terms with it,” he says.
Dementia affects nearly 80 per cent of New Zealanders in some way.
Early warning signs include forgetting conversations or denying they took place, repetition, misplacing items and forgetting where to find household objects.
There is a gradual decrease in socialisation and, latterly, confusion over family, time and place.
For the husband, looking back, the signs were all there.
“The first signs began about five years ago. She was forgetting conversations or that we were going out for tea and would say I hadn’t told her.
“I had a feeling that this was more than just forgetting things, something was out of kilter but as I didn’t really know what was going on, I had to find a way to adjust.
“The worst thing for me, apart from the terrible time my wife is going through, is that there are two of us in this situation. I’ve no experience with this and the impact is huge,” he says.
One of the first tasks he undertook was to contact Alzheimers Marlborough.
The support and information they have provided has proven invaluable, he says.
Almost 70,000 Kiwis are living with dementia. More than 170,000 Kiwis will be living with dementia by 2050
Dementia also impacts women at a higher rate, showing a 30 per cent greater prevalence.
In a cruel twist of fate, the slow progress of the disease in this case means the woman in question is aware of the changes and the likely course the illness will take.
“She’s aware [of what’s happening]. It would be easier if she wasn’t. Being aware and having to come to terms with it is the difficulty,” her husband says.
“Between 70 and 80 per cent of the time we can carry on a semblance of a real life.
“No two days are the same. There may be two days when it’s calm and everything is nice and peaceful. You learn to make the most of the good days.
“My wife still has hope from time to time and will sometimes think that she’s not actually as bad as she was.
“I can’t hope like that,as I know that this condition is irreversible”
Likening the illness to a photograph album that is gradually losing its pictures, the retired husband says routine is key when it comes to helping minimise distress.
Where once this committed couple were ardent travelers, the illness has effectively clipped their wings.
“Travel is an upsetter. Travel was a big and important part of our lives, it’s still something she sometimes looks forward to but also has the nouse to know that long distance travel is not an option anymore.”
Alzheimers NZ represents people living with dementia at a national level.
The organisation provides information and resources, advocates for high quality services, and promotes research about prevention, treatment, cure and care.
Being open with the couple’s children, all of whom live overseas, the couple’s friends and neighbours has helped.
There is no point in pretending it’s not happening, he says.
But having to be selective about what information he passes onto his wife has been “difficult”.
“The subterfuge is difficult. Sometimes you have to simply let them believe wholly that something that isn’t true is true or indulge in small white lies.
“I feel bad about that but after a while you get used to it, you do. What you’re doing all the time is thinking for two people,” he says.
Picking his battles has proven key.
“Sometimes at the supermarket we’ll end up with three items of the same thing, it doesn’t really matter if she’s happy.
“You need to choose your time to walk away. If there’s a hint of an argument, her focus narrows and becomes more self centred.
“I’m more often in the wrong now and the simple thing is to become the bigger person. The most important thing for me now as the ‘carer’ is to have time out to relax or indulge in another activity.”
“You cut your losses and give in if it doesn’t really matter,” he says.
The future is very much on his mind and ultimately, he knows there is no happy ending.
“I think about it all the time, it’d be foolish if I didn’t.
“You can’t make any definitive plans you can only take guesses. You do have to think about the ultimate; there’s no answer to that at this stage.
“I just have to keep an open mind; hope for the best but know to expect the worst. For further information, help or advice visit www.alzheimers.org.nz/marlborough or contact 03 577 6172.
Alzheimers Marlborough are holding a Memory Walk on Saturday 21 September, leaving the Munro Street Car Park at 10:00am. Registration is completely free and can be made prior to the day by phoning the office – 577 6172. Wear something purple. The Memory Walk is for people of all ages and abilities to remember family and community members that have been or are affected by dementia.