Australia’s medicinal cannabis patient numbers are tipped to reach 670,000 by 2030, creating a surge in demand for product, according to the latest Australian Medicinal Cannabis Industry Report from MTPConnect.

The report predicts that, by 2030, a ‘baseline scenario’ of 670,000 patients may be seeking access to medicinal cannabis, requiring around 79,000 kg of dried plant matter. 

Under ‘uplift’ scenarios, where the industry has stronger growth, the report suggests that demand rises to 147,000 kg. 

However, it is confident the industry will easily meet that demand, with new production capacity enabling around 188,000 kg of dried plant to be produced. 

Demand and supply of medicinal cannabis has grown quickly since legalisation in 2016, with manufacturing expected to generate more than A$31 million in revenue in 2020-21 and employ 1,300 workers, according to MTPConnect.

Companies spent an estimated $62 million on research and development in 2019-2020 and, as of May 2021, 29 were licensed to extract and purify raw cannabis materials for medicinal purposes in Australia.

In regards to growth, the report notes that striking a balance between local supply and demand represents an ongoing challenge. It suggests some consolidation and rationalisation in the Australian medicinal cannabis industry is likely. 

However, sustainable growth may be found through the provision of robust and appropriate clinical evidence for the efficacy of medicinal cannabis products and improving perceptions of medicinal cannabis among patients and prescribers.

It urges the industry to learn from similar sectors by establishing a domestic, end-to-end supply chain for medicinal cannabis production while it is still in its infancy. And to capitalise on a changing regulatory landscape and the potential for additional registered cannabis medicines to be listed on the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme.  

The report was developed in partnership with Deloitte Access Economics and involved consultation with industry stakeholders including Medicinal Cannabis Industry Australia, cultivators, manufacturers, research institutions, patient advocates, medical practitioners and pharmacists.

Hannah Adler

Hannah is a communications professional and early-career researcher in the disciplines of health communication and health sociology. She is a PhD student at Griffith University currently writing a...