An East Coast company is the first in Aotearoa New Zealand to secure a license to cultivate cannabis plants, legally. 

Hikurangi Enterprises have been given the green light to grow cannabis for research and medicinal use. 

For Hikurangi Enterprises, it's not about the money, the main thing is to enhance the community.

Managing Director Panapa Ehau says growing cannabis medicinally is a project that's supported by the Ruatoria community.

"A whole lot of whānau and community support [it], that's been integral in the success of this.

"It's really been on the shoulders of our whānau and our community that we've been able to get to where we are, and a whole lot of dedication to get it across the line."

More than 1500 families have invested $2.5 million into the initiative.

Ehau also says growing medicinal plants isn't new to the initiative. 

Their first venture was in hemp which created a pathway to growing cannabis.

"We're working not just in the medicinal cannabis space but across other spaces in hemp, but our focus is really on the medicinal cannabis opportunity for providing more affordable medicines to whānau around New Zealand and creating jobs back home."

Drug Foundation Executive Director, Ross Bell say there's a lot of value in medicinal cannabis. 

"We really like their business model.

It's embedded in the community and they're giving people jobs and there's real opportunity there. 

"But at the moment it's still quite limited because it's just a license to research medical cannabis. 

"We still need the government to change the law to allow these licenses to become commercial licenses."

Hikurangi Enterprises are aiming to get their first batch of medicinal cannabis into the market in a years' time.