Canadian retailer Compass Lifestyle Clinic has opened up a dispensary in Sydney in a bid to capitalize on the underserved Australian patient demand for medicinal marijuana.

Compass was only founded last year, but it has already opened two clinics in British Columbia and six in Alberta. Another six Alberta clinics are coming soon, which will significantly boost its presence in Calgary and Edmonton.

The dispensary on Windsor Road in Sydney is its first international opening and Compass claims it already has a “two month waiting list of patients” desperate to get their hands on medicinal cannabis.

“We know that patients in Australia are currently underserved, simply because many doctors aren’t knowledgeable about prescribing cannabis,” said co-founder and president Dave Martyn. He added that after establishing roots in Australia it will aim to expand into other countries in the Asia Pacific region as and when cannabis laws change.

The clinic also boasts a chiropractor, nutritionist, and acupuncturist to provide all-round wellness services. Compass aims to use education to reduce the stigma surrounding cannabis and encourage more Australian doctors to prescribe it.

Medicinal cannabis was legalized in Australia at a federal level in February 2016, but the industry has taken a while to get up and running. Domestic production is starting to ramp up, but Australians still mainly need to purchase expensive imported cannabis from limited sources or turn to the black market.

Yet The Arcview Group forecasts that medical cannabis spending in Australia will rise from $52 million in 2018 to $1.2 billion by 2027, making it the world’s fifth largest market.

The Australian Central Territory is also bidding to become the first area in the country to legalize cannabis for recreational use. It has a population of 420,000 and houses the capital, Canberra, so it is similar to the District of Columbia in the U.S.

Labour Party backbencher Michael Pettersson has launched a bill called the Drugs of Dependence (Personal Cannabis Use) Amendment Bill 2018. Its aim is to make it legal for residents in the territory to possess up to 50 grams of cannabis or four plants for personal use.

The bill was expected to pass in February 2019, but it has been delayed for referral to a Health Committee, which is conducting a formal inquiry. It is expected to be delayed until the July legislative session, but Pettersson remains hopeful that it will pass into law soon.

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