Australia is aiming for global domination in a growing industry: medicinal marijuana. It covets to be the “number one supplier.”
The Australian government said Thursday that it was legalizing overseas exports of cannabis products for medical uses.
“We’d like to be potentially the world’s number one supplier,” Health Minister Greg Hunt said on local radio.
Some experts even predict Australia’s move could lead to a boom in the industry for Australia.
It “opens the floodgates for further overseas investment into Australia,” said Niv Dagan, a director at investment firm Peak Asset Management. Dagan also foresees the Australian medicinal cannabis market to hit $1 billion by 2020.
Australian stocks soar
The news gave a massive lift to the share prices of Australian companies that grow cannabis for medical purposes. The stock of one cultivation firm, Cann Group, surged 35 per cent Sydney on Thursday. Peter Crock, the company’s CEO, sees big opportunities in markets like Canada and Germany. This would eliminate any shortcomings in local production.
A report had been completed last year by Grand View Research a research and consulting firm in the US. It forecasts that the global market for medicinal cannabis would hit more than $55 billion by 2025. Currently, the major producers of medicinal cannabis for export include Canada and the Netherlands. While import markets include Germany and Croatia.
So far, sales are limited to medicinal use and international trade in legal marijuana is still very tightly controlled. Exporting and importing nations need to report all trades with the UN International Narcotics Control Board.
Strength in Numbers
The Australian Health Ministry said it hoped the decision to legalize exports would strengthen the market for local producers and ensure a more stable supply for Australian patients.
“Our goal is to ensure that Australian producers have every opportunity to be the number one producers of the highest-grade medicinal cannabis in the world,” Hunt said.
The changes will take effect next month. Australia legalized patient access to medicinal cannabis at the federal level in 2016, but rules differ at the state level. In Australia recreational use is forbidden nationwide.
Marijuana typically is prescribed to help alleviate pain for patients with life-threatening illnesses, such as cancer and HIV/AIDS. In addition, studies have been done to test the benefits of marijuana for chronic pain, stress, depression and several other disorders.
Unfortunately, patients reported having difficulty accessing the drugs, with some doctors refusing to prescribe it. But there are hopes for this process to become more accessible.