A new report estimates that the existing cannabis market across the Oceania region is worth $5 billion a year.

Australia, which accounts for 60% of Oceania’s population, offers the biggest opportunity as 12% of the adult population already consumes cannabis at least once per year.

That figure includes legal sales of medicinal marijuana plus a thriving illicit market largely fuelled by recreational users in Australia. The Oceania region covers Australia, New Zealand and a number of islands in Melanesia, Micronesia, and Polynesia.

New Frontier Data analyzed the potential opportunity for a legal cannabis market in the region after assessing its number of marijuana users. It found that Australia, which accounts for 60% of the region’s population, offers the biggest opportunity as 12% of the adult population already consumes cannabis at least once per year.

It believes that the number of medicinal cannabis patients in Australia could reach 330,000 by 2025, along with 70,000 medicinal cannabis patients in New Zealand. That would represent more than 1% of the population in both cases.

Both countries have progressive attitudes to cannabis and they’re expected to influence smaller nations in the region to follow suit. The number of qualifying conditions to receive medicinal marijuana is constantly rising, and New Frontier Data founder Giadha Aguirre de Carcer believes this will create a legal medical industry that is “comparable in many ways to Canada’s national medical cannabis market”.

Medicinal cannabis clinics are being rolled out across Australia and it has also handed out 18 cultivation licenses, 10 research licenses, and 13 manufacturing licenses as a manufacturing industry gathers pace. It currently imports most of its cannabis from North America, but it has a view to rivalling the likes of Canada as a global supplier of cannabis.

New Zealand’s situation is more complex. Around 15% of adults in the country consume cannabis, putting them among the top 10 in the world for consumption per capita, but possession is illegal. Yet a referendum is planned for either 2019 or 2020 and New Zealanders will be able to vote on whether it should roll out a regulated market.

The Northern Mariana Islands recently became the first territory in the region to fully legalize cannabis use, and that could also inspire neighbouring nations to introduce similar measures. New Frontier Data will present its findings at the upcoming CannaTech Sydney, held on Darling Island from October 29-30. The conference will focus on innovation, policy, regulation, science, medicine, and regulation, bringing together cannabis scientists, researchers, regulators and business owners to discuss best practice.