The Western world may have the dominant global market share for medicinal cannabis, but new research suggests drug companies should not forget about the world’s largest and most populous continent.

An estimated 86 million people use cannabis in Asia, according to Prohibition Partners, which estimates the medicinal cannabis market could be worth as much as $8.3 billion by 2024.

“Asia is a key market in the long-term expansion plans of producers, investors and operators,” the report states, saying the continent’s historically conservative stance on the drug is beginning to soften.

Thailand legalised cannabis for medicinal purposes back in February, following the example set by South Korea in November last year.

And as Japan battles for solutions to its ageing population, its healthcare spending is rocketing, due to hit $3.8 trillion by next year.

However, widespread adoption across the continent is not anticipated, with several countries having very strict anti-drug policies, such as the Philippines.

Nonetheless, Prohibition Partners, who produced the report in conjunction with MGC Pharmaceuticals (ASX:MXC), reckon there is plenty of money to be made by following development in the region.

“In Western markets, recreational cannabis is expected to outperform medicinal cannabis in market forecasts, but in Asia the opposite is likely to be true,” it said.

This content is produced by Star Investing in commercial partnership with MGC Pharmaceuticals. This content does not constitute financial product advice. You should consider obtaining independent advice before making any financial decisions.