Medicinal marijuana users in Poland are set to benefit from a more open market after the country issued its first ever cannabis import permit.

Poland legalized cannabis for medicinal purposes in November 2017, but patients have only been able to source it from government-run vendors. Yet that is all set to change after Canadian firm Aurora Cannabis navigated the complexities of the Polish regulatory framework and will become the first company to supply a Polish hospital with marijuana.

“Becoming the first company to supply cannabis to Poland is validation of Aurora’s ability to do business in international markets with high barriers to entry,” said Neil Belot, chief global business development officer at Aurora.

Poland is the 19th country that Aurora will supply cannabis to. It recently tied up deals to ship to Germany and Italy, and it appears to be making inroads into Europe quicker than its greatest rival Canopy Growth. Shares in the business rose 3.2% after the news was announced.

Aurora moved from the OTC Markets to the NYSE a couple of days ago and its share price plunged amid a wider sell-off of cannabis stocks. But it’s showing tentative signs of recovery now, and is still up by more than a third over the past three months.

Aurora has a German office and it will start to ship products to a hospital and a pain treatment centre in Warsaw, the Polish capital, in the coming days. There are more than 300,000 patients that seek to benefit from cannabis use in Poland, and there’s no limit on qualifying conditions, which range from multiple sclerosis to chronic pain brought about by cancer treatments.

However, the country does not cultivate the drug and it is expensive to source, leading campaigners to demand an overhaul of its policies. Doctors have criticized the law’s many hurdles, arguing that they are too restrictive and that a lack of options is detrimental to patient well-being. However, Aurora Cannabis was able to successfully navigate the barriers to entry, and that could well encourage rivals to follow suit, paving the way for a more competitive industry to flourish.

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