2015 saw continued debate about the legalisation of cannabis in New Zealand, with this continuing in 2016. Currently, the possession and growing of cannabis are illegal. However, a number of activist groups have emerged, particularly advocating the use of cannabis for medicinal purposes. Currently, patients with certain medical conditions can seek approval from the Ministry of Health to gain access to one form of medical cannabis known as Sativex, which has been cleared for use in New Zealand. Non-pharmaceutical grade cannabis which does not have approval in New Zealand has a stricter set of criteria for approval and requires the patient to be very ill or dying and in hospital when treatment begins.
British American Tobacco (New Zealand) Ltd continued to lead the category in 2015 with a volume share of 59%. However, the company has lost ground since 2012, when it held a volume share of 71%. The company is only present in RYO tobacco, in which it held a strong volume share of 60%. Port Royal is the company's strongest brand, commanding a leading 28% volume share of RYO tobacco in 2015. However, the company’s Winfield brand has adversely impacted its position, with its volume share falling significantly from 12% in 2014 to just 1% in 2015. A number of other brands in the company's portfolio, however, gained share. These included Holiday (also a strong cigarette brand), Capstan, which recorded significant volume growth over 2014/2015 due to being made available in a 30g pack (the most popular size) and offered at an economy price, and Club Red (another cigarette brand), which was extended into RYO tobacco in 2015. The Park Drive brand is also part of British American Tobacco’s portfolio, although it is owned globally by Japan Tobacco Inc.
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