The move applies to medicinal cannabis products, rather than cannabis itself. In a statement, Federal Health Minister Greg Hunt dubbed the move "an important step for the development of the medicinal cannabis sector and to secure long-term supplies for Australian patients," and said it "will help both the domestic supply and Australian producers by strengthening the opportunities for domestic manufacturers." Hunt expanded upon the rationale further to the ABC, noting "we would like to be, potentially, the world's number one medicinal cannabis supplier."
It is believed that by helping Aussie manufacturers expand, it'll assist in warding off competition from imports by allowing local outfits to grow their market. As part of any licence authorising export, medicinal cannabis products will be required to be made available to Australian patients first.
Since February 2017, local companies have been allowed to distribute the drug as a medicine, with people with chronic illness and pain — like epilepsy, multiple sclerosis and cancer — able to access the drug after getting a prescription from their doctor. "We want a robust Australian medicinal cannabis industry so that doctors have safe, quality domestic products that they can confidently prescribe to their patients," said Hunt.
Just to be clear, though, recreational use of marijuana is still very much illegal and laws vary state-to-state.