In Canada in April 2014, regulations that have permitted the commercial production of cannabis for medical purposes have come into effect. However, since 2001, the medical use of cannabis had been legal for users who were allowed to grow their marijuana or purchase it through the health system. The new regulations have represented a major shift in the medical marijuana landscape.
There were just under 24,000 registered users of cannabis in Canada in early 2015. But it had risen to more than 3,40,000 users by the third quarter of 2018. And in the year 2018, Canada has become the second country after Uruguay for doing the legalization of cannabis for recreational purposes.
As Australia has legalized cannabis in the year 2016, numerous members of the industry look to Canada as a model for how this sector might get developed shortly. The growth trajectory of the users of medical cannabis that we have seen so far in Australia is highly similar to what we have seen in the case of Canada in the early days of commercial legalization of cannabis.
Canada and Australia are similar in a huge number of ways. Given below are four reasons that why Australia is the world’s next largest medicinal cannabis market.
Similar cultural values and demographics
Like Australia and Canada, both are the Commonwealth nations, both have the same colonial histories. While both these countries once looked to the UK as an inspiration for their national identities, multiculturalism has become more dominant in recent decades. It is more in Canada than Australia, where the citizens of Canada have ranked it the number one defining factor of their country.
Both these countries are having similar socio-cultural values. And in general, these are also having extremely harmonious multiethnic communities where a huge percentage of citizens are first or second-generation migrants. The population of Australia is made up of more than 28% of people who were born overseas. While in Canada the immigrants cover up more than 20% of its total population.
In terms of cultural values, Australians and Canadians equally value democracy, a fair go, and freedom for everyone. Both these countries are also ranking highly on the social progress index. This index does the measurement of things like crime levels, gender equality, and literacy rates. In this index, Canada is standing at number six while Australia is ranking at number ten.
Similar economies and geography
The population of Canada is 37 million which is much larger than the population of Australia which is 24 million. But, both these countries are spread over a large landmass with the desert of Australia and the Arctic areas of Canada both of which are largely uninhabitable. The economies of both these countries rely heavily on mining, agriculture, and manufacturing. These countries are also having similar GDP per capita that is $USD45,000 of Canada and $USD53,800 of Australia respectively.
Australia and Canada both are enjoying a high standard of living and the three cities from each of these countries are ranking in the top ten most liveable cities in the world. These are Adelaide, Sydney, and Melbourne in Australia while, Toronto, Vancouver, and Calgary in Canada. Both these countries are also boasting a highly educated population with a high level of disposable income.
Australia and Canada both are also having a high baseline of existing users of cannabis. About 12% of people have reported having used cannabis in the past 12 months. The black market for recreational marijuana is estimated to be worth $4.5 billion. In the past three months, about 4.6 million people or 15% of the population over the age of 15 in Canada have been reported to use cannabis. After the legalization of cannabis, this figure has barely shifted.
Both these countries are having abundant room for the cultivation of crops, a pre-established market for cannabis products, and access to skilled labor for both recreational and medicinal purposes.
Similar health care systems
It is a bit-known fact that the universal health care system of Australia, Medicare was originally modeled on Canada and it was also adapted to suit local legislation. There were a huge number of differences between the two health care systems- for instance.
Most often the patients in Australia used to pay an out-of-pocket fee for pharmaceuticals, treatments, and consultations. Meanwhile, generally, patients are not required to pay for services in Canada. However, both these are strong socialized systems with private systems that are running in parallel. These are also widely regarded as best practices throughout the world.
Similar attitudes towards wellbeing and health
Australians and Canadians both are having a keen interest in alternative and complementary therapies such as naturopathy, acupuncture, and massage. An estimated two out of three Australians are used to make use of alternative medicines. Meanwhile, 79% of Canadians were reported having tried complementary therapies at some point in their lives.
Most Australians used to spend $3.5 billion on complementary medicine each year which is just almost double the $1.8 billion which is spent on medications on the Pharmaceuticals Benefits Scheme. Doctors in Australia also frequently refer their patients for taking complementary therapies for instance acupuncture for the treatment of their back pains.
The people of Canada used to spend $8.8 billion each year on complementary medicine which is inclusive of $2.3 billion that is spent on diet programs, books, herbal and vitamin supplements, classes, and equipment.
A huge number of people who are seeking out alternative medicine give the suggestion that they are absolutely dissatisfied with traditional western medicine and they are also desired of trying different methods for alleviating their problems. It seems absolutely true in the case of those patients who are facing chronic diseases. It is a key patient group that makes use of medicinal cannabis.
Botanical medicines for instance cannabinoids are a perfect fit in this field. It is valuable for both those who give value to an evidence-based approach or also to those who are in search of natural or organic therapies. And Australia is very similar to Canada in most aspects, so Australia is having the perfect position to be the world’s next largest medicinal cannabis market.