The Federal Government has high ambitions for the emerging medicinal cannabis industry.
From February this year, Australia's fledgling medicinal cannabis industry will be allowed to export its products – and is aiming to become a leading global supplier.
"We would like to be, potentially, the world's number one medicinal cannabis supplier," said Health Minister Greg Hunt.
Mr Hunt said it was likely there would be "more than enough" cannabis for both Australian patients and international consumers.
"One of the conditions of any licence for export is that medicinal cannabis be made available to Australian patients first," he said.
"The sector is fully supportive of that. Australian patients come first."
Recreational use remains illegal
Australia will become the fourth country in the world to legalise medicinal marijuana exports in a bid to score a slice of the estimated $55 billion global market.
Cannabis cultivation in Australia is still relatively small, as recreational use remains illegal.
But the government hopes domestic medicinal use, legalised last year, and exports will rapidly boost production.
Shares in the more than a dozen Australian cannabis producers listed on the local exchange soared after the announcement, reports Reuters.
Cann Group was up 35 percent last week while AusCann Group rose nearly 54 percent and BOD Australia closed up about 39 percent. All were record highs for those companies.
Hydroponics Company finished up 30 percent, hitting its highest price in five weeks.
Mr Hunt said new legislation to be introduced when Parliament resumes next month giving the green light to medicinal cannabis exports.
The legislation will include a requirement that growers first meet demand from local patients before exporting the remainder of their crop.
The changes will cover cannabis-based treatments such as oils, patches, sprays, lozenges and tablets that have the potential to relieve the pain and symptoms of a myriad of conditions.
Exports would then likely begin within months.
Despite growing demand, only Uruguay, Canada and the Netherlands have so far legalised the export of medicinal marijuana. Israel has said it intends to do so within months.