“Cannabis route” could be key to Portugal’s fortunes

No, it’s not a new ‘Lonely Planet-type’ travel guide, but a “global industry in rapid expansion worth hundreds of millions of euros”, and setting its sights on Portugal.

According to ionline, the government has already received two proposals from world-class companies keen to start cannabis production for medicinal purposes in Portugal.

The Canadian and Israeli manufacturers are both seeking to “create cultivation units, and even a factory in which to transform and purify the plant”.

The bids are being handled by AICEP (Portugal’s agency for investment and external commerce) and medication authority Infarmed, which supplied ionline with its information.

The paper explains that for now, the only company cultivating cannabis in Portugal is Montijo-based firm Terra Verde, which set up on land in Évora in 2014. Part of Britain’s Gw Pharmaceuticals, a global leader in prescription cannabinoid medicines, Terra Verde is licensed to plant over 8.75 hectares of land, with the provision, says ionline, for a harvest of 21 tons.

The cannabis is destined in its totality for export to the UK.

Initially, the company posted a loss of €10,261, but since that first year, business has “gained the speed of a cruiseship” says the paper, posting profits last year of €66,233.

According to ionline’s research, “the business of cannabis in Portugal promises to grow to seven-figure sums” in the next few years.

The companies keen to come into the market are talking about investing up to €107 million, though for the time medicinal products made from cannabinoids are not authorised for sale in Portugal.

Infarmed president Henrique Luz Rodrigues has told ionline that the only ‘obstacle’ preventing this happening is the lack of “available products”. “There is no need for any change in the law”, he assured the paper, which added that “Sativex” – a mouth spray made by Gw pharmaceuticals for use in the treatment of multiple sclerosis – has been authorised for introduction to Portugal’s market, though it has yet to arrive.

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