The Cook Islands is weighing up whether to import cannabis and/or grow its own after the country voted to legalise medicinal use last year.

In a non-binding referendum held alongside the country’s general election in August 2022, 62% of voters said yes to reviewing laws to allow for research and medicinal use. 

After the result, prime minister Mark Brown said the Government would move quickly towards legalisation and it has since established a committee to consider how to regulate the medicine.

That committee is now deciding if the law needs to be changed to allow cannabis to be manufactured locally and/or if it could be imported under existing laws.

Committee chair Tingika Elikana said: “If [it] is cheaper for us to manufacture our own to treat those with ailments in the country, then we might have to go down that road and encourage people to get that opportunity.”

He said the Government may allocate manufacturing licences or allow people to grow a certain amount for personal use.

The committee is also investigating whether medicinal cannabis could be imported under the current ministry of health legal framework.

“At the moment, it is looking positive, but we’re just awaiting final advice from the Crown Law office,” Elikana added.

Either way, with a population of just 17,500, the Cook Islands market for medicinal cannabis is not likely to be substantial.

Prior to launching Cannabiz, Martin was co-founder and CEO of Asia-Pac’s leading B2B media and marketing information brand Mumbrella, overseeing its sale to Diversified Communications in 2017. A journalist...

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