Medical cannabis market in Oceania region could grow as much 200-fold in next decade

Oceania’s cannabis industry is poised for a boom over the next decade. A report by Prohibition Partners, which tracks the international cannabis industry, predicts the medical cannabis market in Oceania will be worth nearly $3.5 billion by 2028. The Oceania Cannabis Report also states should recreational cannabis use become legal across the region, that market would worth another $8.6 billion by 2028. The medical cannabis market is about $18 million annually now.

While a proposal by the Greens in Australia is gaining little traction, it appears the biggest market in the region won’t be legalising recreational use any time soon. New Zealand, however, is likely to hold a referendum on recreational cannabis use in 2019 or 2020.

While the Greens in Australia call for a nationalised wholesale system in which the government would buy cannabis from farmers and sell it to licensed retailers, Justice Minister Andrew Little said New Zealand hasn’t yet worked out details of how legalised sales would work.

We simply haven’t got anywhere near that, I think it’s about getting the mechanics of the referendum sorted, then I think obviously some discussions around scope and maybe some options there,” Little said. “The critical question is going to be, what is the question to go to the electorate with, one that makes sense and gives a meaningful answer and gives a mandate if it is approved to proceed with further work — if it’s not approved of course it’s all over.”

Led by Cann Group and AusCann — which have  a combined market cap around $1 billion — there are more than 20 medical cannabis companies traded on the ASX. Australia legalised medical exports in January 2018, causing stocks to soar. The first export went out in August. Cannabis Jobs Australia expects there to 50,000 jobs in the industry nationwide by 2028, from master grower to edibles chef to delivery driver.

The global legal cannabis market was worth about $13 billion in 2017 an increase of 33 per cent over the previous year, with the US accounting for 90 per cent of that. Since then, Canada has become the second country to legalise recreational cannabis and more US states — including California — have begun the legal distribution of recreational or medical cannabis. The market worldwide is projected to top $200 billion by 2025.

CannaTech Sydney, Australia’s first medical cannabis conference, took place the last week of October, with industry experts from across the globe in attendance.

“We are proud of the sheer number of leading medical researchers and cannabis scientists,” CannaTech head Yaron Eshel said. “ Let us not forget that it is the science of cannabis and the desire to help patients in need that is driving this burgeoning industry.”

The Therapeutic Goods Association said it approved 469 for medical cannabis use between August and September, nearly five times as many as it approved between January and February.

Prohibition Partners data suggest that more than 10 per cent of Australians and New Zealanders use cannabis, meaning that as restrictions ease, the market is ripe for growth.