Australia’s legal cannabis market is still in its infancy, but a recent move from the federal government could position the country as one of the top medical marijuana exporters – with a lofty goal of eventually becoming the biggest supplier globally.

Health Minister Greg Hunt has been spearheading the move, which allows for the export of medical cannabis. Hunt says they will be focusing first on growing the market domestically, then expanding to supply the rest of the world with cannabis products.

“This is actually a very important step for our domestic patients and our domestic supply. By knowing they have an Australian market and an international market, that improves the likelihood of growing and production in Australia,” Hunt said.

At this time, regulations in the country prevent exporting marijuana, but that will change once Parliament gets back to work in February. The regulations will be revised to include medicinal cannabis products such as oils, sprays, patches, and tablets.

Hunt says that the ultimate goal behind this move by the federal government is for Australia to become a top competitor in the global cannabis market – perhaps even the biggest.

“We would like to be, potentially, the world’s number one medicinal cannabis supplier,” Hunt said, adding that there should be “more than enough” medical cannabis product available for both Australians and the rest of the world.

Parliament legalized the use of medical cannabis in 2016, but has been relatively slow to catch on as a whole. Cannabis advocates say that this is largely due to the fact that doctors are hesitant to prescribe their patients with the drug, citing special arrangements needed to do so as some of the stumbling blocks. Hunt says that it is understandable that doctors are leery of prescribing medical cannabis, since it was only legalized in 2016. Hunt added that attitudes towards medical cannabis are changing, however, telling reporters that they have seen a “progressive increase” in recent prescriptions.

“There are now no real government barriers at all to accessing medicinal cannabis. We are working with the Australian Medical Association and the College of GPs to ensure that doctors have the full information, so they can ensure whether this is or isn’t in the best interest of their patients,” Hunt concludes.    

To become the world’s biggest medical cannabis exporter is a very impressive goal for the land down under. It will be interesting to see how this whole thing plays out in the future, and how markets in North America will respond.