Report: Australia cannabis sales near AU$100 million as consolidation looms

Australia’s market for medical cannabis is expected to triple this year to about AU$95 million ($70 million) in product sales, according to a new report published by North Sydney-based data firm FreshLeaf Analytics. 

However, FreshLeaf said it analyzed 37 companies vying for less than 100,000 prescriptions, concluding that “the Australian cannabis market is saturated and that the current product growth trajectory is unsustainable.”

“It would be reasonable to conclude that in the next 12-18 months we will begin to see a reversal in growth of prescription product numbers and consolidation in the number of players.”

The report also highlights:

  • Lower prices becoming the norm.
  • Significantly more patients accessing medical cannabis. 

FreshLeaf anticipates the number of active patients – via all access pathways – will have grown to more than 30,000 by the end of this year.

That is a significant jump over an estimated 10,000 active patients last December.

The analytics company said it expects Australia to close the year with around 60,000 approvals via the Special Access Scheme Category B route (also known as SAS-B), which is used to provide patients with access to “unapproved ” medical cannabis products.

FreshLeaf provided the caveat: “SAS-B approval numbers, while cited regularly, have increasingly become an unreliable estimate of market activity.” 

“Patients have multiple SAS-B approvals – 2.3 on average – and alternative pathways such as Pharmacy Compounding and Authorised Prescribers, which allows a doctor to write a prescription for a product without patient-by-patient approval, are increasingly contributing to market numbers,” the company said. 

The report says lower prices are a fixture in the market. 

“The price war is escalating and the last year has brought the largest drop in price since the inception of the legal industry in Australia with the minimum recommended retail price sitting at around 6 cents per milligram,” according to the report. 

Other takeaways include: 

  • The number of available products rose 50% in the last six months. There are now 150 products now on the market. 
  • Medical cannabis in oil format leads with 89 products in the market, followed by flower (29 products). Spray, capsules, tablets and wafers accounted for 32 products, FreshLeaf said. 

Read the report – Australian Medicinal Cannabis Market Patient, Product and Pricing Analysis – can be viewed here.