Cannabis museum for Christchurch

Cookie Time founder Michael Mayell (left) and Dunedin’s Whakamana Cannabis Museum founder Abe...
Cookie Time founder Michael Mayell (left) and Dunedin’s Whakamana Cannabis Museum founder Abe Gray are starting a new museum in Christchurch. Photo: Samantha Mayell
Dunedin's cannabis museum is set to expand to Christchurch, with some heavyweight support.

The museum, with a cafe and retail outlet, will also have a strong educational component, after Cookie Time founder Michael Mayell got involved.

Mr Mayell was born in Dunedin and is now a social entrepreneur, after spending 35 years in the biscuit business.

He wants to use the opportunity to  follow his dream of shifting New Zealand towards

more of a hemp economy, decreasing its reliance on dairy and saving the environment in the process.

Cannabis activist and founder of the Whakamana Cannabis Museum in Dunedin, Abe Gray, told the Otago Daily Times he had recently moved to Christchurch, where his wife had taken a job, and wanted to open a museum there.

The Dunedin museum had a cafe and retail outlet, and the idea was to replicate that model in Christchurch.He had met Mr Mayell in 2017, at a hemp conference in Wellington.

Last November, the Misuse of Drugs (Industrial Hemp) Regulations 2006 and the Food Regulations 2015 were amended to allow the sale of hemp seed as food.Mr Gray said he discussed the idea of hemp food with Mr Mayell and "the idea went from there".

"We’re just looking for the right premises now."

The museum could open "fairly soon, I would say January or February".

The plan was for it to be in the central business district.

Mr Mayell said he was "astounded" to find out Dunedin had a cannabis museum.

Hemp seeds, which had no THC content, were the most nutritionally complete food available, he said.

Milk could be made from the seed, as could anything made from cow’s milk, such as butter.

Mr Mayell had visited Mr Gray in Dunedin, discovered he was soon to move to Christchurch, and said it seemed "crazy" not to establish a museum in Christchurch while he was there.

"That was how it started," he said.

Mr Mayell was not looking at manufacturing hemp products himself.His interest was in the educational side of the museum, and the hemp food aspect.

"The idea we’re looking at for Christchurch is the cannabis museum and the hemp food cafe.

"All the food would be showcasing hemp."

Four years ago, Mr Mayell launched Nutrient Rescue, a social enterprise helping people improve their diet by providing healthy, plant-based products.

The organisation was also working to change New Zealand’s agriculture industry by expanding the international market for organic, whole-food plant powders, providing farmers with an alternative to intensive cow grazing, and benefiting the environment.

He did not yet know how his financial input into the museum project would work, but the plan was to "take the museum to a new level".

"We’re going to be digitising the museum, and we’re going to be taking what we create in Christchurch on a New Zealand-wide tour," Mr Mayell said.

That would happen before next year’s cannabis referendum.The pair was considering a crowdfunding campaign to raise both funds and awareness.

Mr Gray said the Dunedin museum would continue to run in Princes St.

david.loughrey@odt.co.nz

Add a Comment

Our journalists are your neighbours

We are the South's eyes and ears in crucial council meetings, at court hearings, on the sidelines of sporting events and on the frontline of breaking news.

As our region faces uncharted waters in the wake of a global pandemic, Otago Daily Times continues to bring you local stories that matter.

We employ local journalists and photographers to tell your stories, as other outlets cut local coverage in favour of stories told out of Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch.

You can help us continue to bring you local news you can trust by becoming a supporter.

Become a Supporter