By Emily Ledger
The Oceania cannabis market could be worth up to US$1.55 billion by 2024 according to the cannabis research group Prohibition Partners. The estimates come as New Zealand introduced new medical cannabis rules and prepares for a referendum on legalising recreational cannabis.
Despite both recreational and medical cannabis remaining illegal in much of the region, Oceania is expected to become a significant cannabis market. In particular, Australia is already ahead of many other regions with a massive 30 cannabis companies listed on the ASX. This is more than the total cannabis companies listed on stock exchanges throughout the whole of Europe.
However, the Oceania cannabis market assessed in Prohibition Partners’ Oceania Cannabis Report also includes various smaller nations and islands in the region. Currently, the majority of these jurisdictions continue to prohibit cannabis.
Legalisation in the Region
Various territories, including Guam, Vanuatu, and the Federated States of Micronesia, however, have legalised medical cannabis. The Northern Mariana Islands (US) has also legalised recreational cannabis, and Guam (US) originally planned to legalise by April 2020. However, policymakers in the territory are seeking a time extension as plans have been disrupted by the Coronavirus pandemic.
Nevertheless, the prospect of more liberal cannabis laws taking hold in New Zealand and Australia is becoming more likely. The Australian Capital Territory (ACT) made the controversial decision to become the first territory in the country to decriminalise recreational cannabis use in January 2020.
In addition, New Zealand introduced new guidelines for the medical cannabis sector in the country on April 1st 2020. The new rules aim to improve patient access to medical cannabis products in the country.
New Zealand citizens are also expected to vote on the legalisation of recreational cannabis in September 2020. The vote will be determined through a referendum held alongside the country’s General Election.
The Future Cannabis Market
Some have speculated that cannabis decriminalisation in the ACT could kickstart a domino effect of legalisation throughout Australian territories. However, it has also been noted that the inconsistency that may come with state-by-state legalisation could slow the development of the sector.
On the other hand,legalisation in New Zealand could have the potential to kickstart a more meaningful spread throughout the region. Despite cannabis laws remaining uncertain in Oceania, Prohibition Partners expects that the market will continue to grow.