Legalising cannabis production has always been a contentious issue. A plant that has been prohibited and scrutinised, branded with a biased public perception and a lack of understanding of its real advantages – medicinal benefits. But is it possible to achieve this ethically? Yes, says SETEK Therapeutics, Taupō-based medicinal cannabis producer – and the only New Zealand company that has ruled out any involvement in the production of flower or ‘loose leaf’ for smoking.
SETEK Therapeutics emerged in late 2017 as a business collaboration between Mark Mees and chief operating officer, David Pearce.
“From the outset, our vision was to become New Zealand’s lowest cost-provider of pharmaceutical grade, 100% NZ certified organic cannabis-based medicines,” says Mark.
Following a rigorous process to obtain the license, SETEK are currently in their research phase, developing and stabilising the genetics to be grown, alongside commencing the design of their new, state-of-the-art good manufacturing practice (GMP) medical cannabis facility. With the facility expected to be complete by August 2020, the team are on track for a product launch in late 2020. Treatment areas include intractable pain, depression, anxiety, as well as specific illnesses such as cancer, Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, and several spasticity disorders.
SETEK are now the fourth company in New Zealand to receive a license to grow cannabis for research and development, and only the second granted permission to grow high THC cultivars.
Why Taupō? Along with its central location providing an ideal logistics and distribution hub in New Zealand, it also aligns perfectly with SETEK’s social responsibility goals and is key to their international branding strategy.
“Keeping it local also aligns with local Iwi / Hapu aspirations for the return of tangata whenua to their ancestral lands. If you are going to do that you need a model that includes the creation of sustainable jobs,” explains David. “There are also several factors unique to our location which will help SETEK to achieve its goal of becoming Oceania’s – and one of the world’s – first net-carbon-neutral indoor cannabis companies.”
A Taupō base also means the creation of over 100 jobs locally, potentially increasing to 250 or more as new opportunities in the natural health and nutraceutical markets open up.
Kapiti Coast Chamber of Commerce
21 May 2019 – SETEK Therapeutics featured as the lead story in the new Kapiti Coast Chamber of Commerce Magazine
Cannabis busines start-up
26 April 2019, as reported in the Taupo Times
A medicinal cannabis company has been given the green light to set up its operations in Taupō, creating more than 100 jobs.
SETEK Therapeutics will establish its base in Taupō later this year after becoming the fourth company to receive a licence from the Ministry of Health to cultivate cannabis plants.
It’s only the second to receive permission to grow high THC cultivars for research in what is projected globally to be an $11 billion medical cannabis industry by 2022.
They will build their operation plant on a 26-hectare block of land on Rakaunui Rd, in Rotokawa.
SETEK chief operating officer, and Taupō local David Pearce (pictured left), said initially 100 jobs would be created but could grow to more than 250 if developments in the legislative environment opened up new markets in the natural health and personal care product markets.
Taupō mayor David Trewavas said he was confident that the business had done everything they needed to do to be given the go-ahead.
“The 100 jobs that they are proposing to have is certainly always welcome in this district. I certainly don’t foresee any problems,” he said.
“The Taupō district is always open for business and always has been. [Medicinal cannabis] opens up a whole new industry in our district.”
SETEK was founded last year by Pearce, and Kapiti businessman Mark Mees (pictured right), with the aim of becoming New Zealand’s leading cultivator and producer of pharmaceutical grade, 100 per cent New Zealand-certified organic medical cannabis products.
Mees, who is also chief executive, said obtaining a licence enabled the company to move into the research and development stage, commence the design phase for its new, state-of-the-art good manufacturing practice medical cannabis facility, carry out initial recruitment, and initiate its medical cannabis education programme.
“We expect the design phase to be completed in September this year, with construction commencing late 2019 and operational readiness expected mid-2020.
“We want to support local Iwi in their aims for the return of tangata whenua to their ancestral lands, and we recognise that local job creation is one of the keys to achieving this in a sustainable way.
“Taupō is also an ideal location in terms of logistics and distribution.”
Mees said SETEK has been methodical and deliberate about its development and looking ahead three to five years.
“This is a complex, rapidly evolving new industry that doesn’t even have a regulatory framework yet, but we have already seen the failure of several New Zealand start-ups before they’ve got out of the starting blocks.”
SETEK aims to have its first products on the market by the end of 2020.
The SETEK Therapeutics Advisory Board is chaired by former Associate Minister of Health Peter Dunne who said he joined the company because of their genuine focus on helping people.
However, he was aware of the significant challenges surrounding attitudes and views towards cannabis-based medicine from both the public and the medical profession.
“There seems to be this public perception that cannabis-based medicines are the new panacea that will cure any health issues, this is not the case,” Dunne said.
“But cannabis-based medicines will be hugely beneficial for a number of medical conditions, including those suffering from intractable pain and spasticity disorders.”
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SETEK Cites Challenges Around Public and Medical Education
17 April 2019
SETEK Therapeutics, a Taupo-based medical cannabis company, has cautioned that public education and helping the medical profession to better understand medicinal cannabis will be a key challenge.
Chair of the SETEK Advisory Board and former Associate Health Minister Peter Dunne says there are significant challenges surrounding attitudes and views towards cannabis-based medicines from both the public and the medical profession.
SETEK became the fourth company to receive a licence from the Ministry of Health to cultivate cannabis plants, and only the second to receive permission to grow high THC cultivars for research, in what is projected globally to be an $11 billion medical cannabis industry by 2022.
Mr Dunne says: “There seems to be this public perception that cannabis-based medicines are the new panacea that will cure any health issues, this is not the case.”
“But cannabis-based medicines will be hugely beneficial for a number of medical conditions, including those suffering from intractable pain and spasticity disorders.
“Significant work will be required to help the medical profession better understand how medicinal cannabis products can benefit the treatment of their patients,” says Mr Dunne.
Mr Dunne took up his position with the SETEK Therapeutics in September 2018.
“I joined SETEK because I was not only impressed with their vision and plans to build a successful international business, but also their genuine focus on helping people,” says Mr Dunne.
SETEK was founded in 2018 by Taupo businessman David Pearce and Mark Mees, with the aim of becoming New Zealand’s leading cultivator and producer of medical cannabis products.
SETEK Therapeutics is the only New Zealand company to preclude any involvement in the production of flower or loose leaf for smoking.
SETEK Chief Executive Mark Mees says the company fully supports the government’s Aotearoa New Zealand 2025 Smokefree goal, and say there are a number of healthier and more effective ways to consume medical cannabis.
The Government’s cannabis regulations are expected to be completed by the end of 2019, with associated licensing, audit and compliance functions completed by mid-2020 which Mr Mees says will signify the start of the cannabis market in New Zealand.
SETEK recently secured a 26-hectare block of land in Taupo to establish its operational plant, which is expected to create more than 100 jobs for the local economy.
Mr Mees says SETEK has been methodical and deliberate about its development and looking ahead three to five years, it aims to have built a successful commercial operation and established itself as one of the world’s leading medical cannabis brands.
“This is a complex, rapidly evolving new industry that doesn’t even have a regulatory framework yet, but we have already seen the failure of several New Zealand start-ups before they’ve got out of the starting blocks,” he says.
Mr Mees says SETEK aims to have its first products on the market by the end of 2020.
“We have always been more concerned with doing it right than getting there first, as we aim to become New Zealand’s most trusted and lowest cost-provider of pharmaceutical-grade, 100% New Zealand-certified organic medical cannabis products,” says Mr Mees.
SETEK Advisory Board Chair Talks About Medicinal Cannabis Sector
10 April 2019
Chair of the SETEK Advisory Board and former New Zealand Associate Health Minister Hon. Peter Dunne talks about his role with SETEK, the future of the medicinal cannabis sector and the need for public and medical education.
SETEK Management and Advisory Board at Taupo Site
2 April 2019
The Management team and Advisory Board of SETEK Therapeutics at the site of its proposed Taupo plant.
Pictured from left to right: Dr. Mike Nichols (Advisory Board, Horticultural Science), Jane Pearce (SETEK Finance & Administration), Mark Mees (CEO), Hon Peter Dunne (Advisory Board Chair), David Pearce (COO), Dr. Denise Taylor (Advisory Board, Clinical Pharmacology) and Martin Gray (Advisory Board, Commercial M&A).
New Zealand Just Days From Legalising Medicinal Cannabis
11 December 2018
Following the third reading of The Misuse of Drugs (Medicinal Cannabis) Amendment Bill and its passing by the House, it’s now just a matter of signing the bill into law by giving it the Royal assent, which is done on the advice of the Prime Minister and the Attorney-General.
Whilst this is tremendous news for many of those patients who will most benefit from medical cannabis, many are disappointed with the bill’s controversial exclusion of intractable pain as a general qualifying condition.
New Zealand’s emerging ‘canna-business’ sector now waits with
30 November 2018
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Hon. Peter Dunne to Lead SETEK Advisory Board
12 September 2018
SETEK Chief Executive Mark Mees has announced two key appointments to the SETEK Advisory Board.
“I am delighted to report that the Hon Peter Dunne has accepted the position of Chairman of SETEK’s Advisory Board, joining experienced M&A specialist, Martin Gray of Armillary Private Capital.”
Hon Peter Dunne said his decision to join SETEK was ultimately an easy one to make.
“The SETEK Board of Directors impressed me not only with their vision and plans to build a successful international business, but also their genuine focus on helping people. Mark demonstrates a balanced mix of corporate thinking and good old-fashioned values that really resonated with me.”
“During my time as Associate Minister of
“With the Misuse of Drugs (Medicinal Cannabis) Amendment Bill making its way through Parliament, I am looking forward to working with the SETEK Board to achieve a mutual vision of making premium quality, New Zealand grown cannabis-based medicinal products available to all those New Zealanders who will benefit from them,” Dunne said.
Mr Mees said that the company is focused on ‘getting it right, not getting there first’.
“We may not be the first cab off the rank to produce Medicinal Cannabis in New Zealand, but our planning and execution will more than compensate. We’re passionately committed to setting the ‘Gold standard’ in this new industry in New Zealand; as a producer; as an employer and as a business partner.
The SETEK name will become synonymous with quality in everything we do.” said Mr Mees.
“Mark has assembled an impressive team and the opportunities ahead are exciting. As Advisory Board members, Martin and myself are looking forward immensely to working with SETEK in every way that we can to help them realise their goals—and I am sure you will see a number of announcements over the coming months,” said Hon Dunne.
Martin Gray added that the company has a number of exciting opportunities in front of it and is well placed to build a significant New Zealand and international business.
SETEK is a 100% New Zealand owned company primed to enter the CBD and Medicinal Cannabis market and expects its first CBD products to be ready for market in 2019. SETEK was co-founded by David Peace and Mark Mees in early 2018.