Australia has broken into the European medicinal cannabis market with the first batch in a decade-long, multi-million deal on its way to Germany.
The $92 million export agreement marks the start of a trade partnership with the region, which is forecast to become the world’s largest legal market.
Health Minister Greg Hunt says Australia is poised to become a recognised leader in the global supply of the highest quality medicinal cannabis products.
“Australia’s gold-standard regulation of medicinal cannabis products, coupled with a premium agricultural and manufacturing industry, means we are well positioned to become a preferred supplier,” Mr Hunt said on Thursday.
“This has the potential to create jobs and boost economic growth in Australia as we look to new and different export channels.”
The 10-year deal will initially see about two tonnes of locally grown and dried cannabis flowers shipped over the next 18 months.
“This is a major win for the industry in Australia,” Australian Natural Therapeutics Group chief executive Matt Cantelo said.
“While the German cannabis industry is still in its infancy, it is (already) the third-largest market globally behind the US and Canada”.
ANTG are the first local growers to crack the EU market, which currently receives the majority of imported products from Canada and The Netherlands.
“Now that we have the gold standard in growing and manufacturing medicinal cannabis – in line with the most stringent in the world – it means our product also qualifies for export to every other nation,” Mr Cantelo said.
The market for medicinal cannabis in Germany is expected to grow rapidly in the next decade and reach $12.4 billion by 2028, according to ANTG.
Mr Cantelo said Australia’s tough regulatory framework had set the local industry up as the best in the world.
“Australia also has the reputation and climate for growing excellent produce in general – it makes sense that we would produce the highest quality, non-irradiated medicinal cannabis product as well,” he said.
Federal parliament in June passed legislation authorising the export of medicinal cannabis and hemp into more overseas markets.
It gives farmers access to export opportunities in Southeast Asia, China, Canada and the lucrative US market, along with Europe.
The new laws also mean Australia will be able to certify legitimate exports of narcotic products, helping producers export to countries and regions that need government approval, such as the European Union, which holds the strictest regulations on imports.