Algarve-based company CANNPRISMA officially inaugurated its medicinal cannabis production centre in Castro Marim on Monday (September 20), complete with greenhouses and state-of-the-art facilities and equipment.
The company’s goal is to put the Algarve at the forefront of medicinal cannabis production and become an international leader in the area.
“Today, one of my biggest dreams has come true. It is a shared goal with all my team. It took almost three years of work to get here,” said CANNPRISMA CEO, João Nascimento.
“The path was not always easy, but our vision, effort and commitment have been so great that, even faced with difficulties and hurdles, we never gave up. We always believed that we would get here one day. Although this was a huge and very difficult project to complete, we can say that one part is done,” he added.
CANNPRISMA is committed to “growing and processing high-quality medicinal cannabis, which will help improve the health of several patients, all while following high levels of safety and entrepreneurial ethics,” said Nascimento.
The company is investing in four lines of business – the first of which is now operational, with the official opening of the production centre, which it says complies with Good Agricultural and Collection Practices (GACP) and in July 2021 obtained full authorisation from Infarmed (national medicines authority).
The production centre is currently undergoing expansion works to “capitalise on the investment that has already been made”.
The second phase involves building an industrial unit in Vila Real de Santo António to “process, extract, manufacture and package” the medicinal cannabis. It will extend over 6,000sqm and include an area for “research and development” and a laboratory for testing. Construction is underway and nearing completion.
The third goal will be to “obtain oils, extracts and other raw materials” to be used as APIs (Active Pharmaceutical Ingredient) by the pharmaceutical industry, while the fourth phase will involve producing formulas and medicines either for other companies or for the CANNPRISMA brand.
So far, around €15 million has been invested with another €30 million to be invested throughout the coming five years.
Fifty jobs have already been created, with the number due to grow to 200 or 300 as the company’s activities expand.
CANNPRISMA is expecting an annual revenue of €20 million, with 90% of production due to be exported.
In 2022, the company plans to harvest 12 tonnes of cannabis.
“This is a line of business that requires a great investment in high-technology greenhouses, software and physical and human safety means. This area requires great investment in specialised labour, both in terms of agriculture and the pharmaceutical industry,” said Nascimento.
“Right now, half of our workers have a bachelor’s degree or higher. As this is a new line of business, both in Portugal and the world, it is also necessary to invest strongly in research and development to grow unique plants and create new products to stand out in the market. And as we want to be a leading company that is at the same time sustainable, all the water we use is reused to water the gardens surrounding our plants.
“At our greenhouses, our light sources are LEDs and we will be installing solar panels. We do not use pesticides or insecticides but instead auxiliary insect to fight different pests,” added the CEO.
CANNPRISMA’s ‘endgame’ is to become a world leader in the “research, development, cultivation, extraction and manufacturing of medicinal cannabis.”
Nascimento also thanked his parents, who are the company’s shareholders and have supported and financed him from the very start, as well as the local council of Castro Marim for “believing in us”.
“I think we have all the conditions to produce one of the best – if not the best – medicinal cannabis in the world.”
Meanwhile, the EU-funded project was also praised by José Apolinário, president of the Algarve’s regional development and coordination commission (CCDR Algarve).
“We often speak about how we need to diversify our local economy and that we cannot survive solely on tourism. This production of medicinal cannabis is a good example,” said Apolinário.
The CCDR boss also stressed that the Algarve has “competitive advantages” when it comes to growing medicinal cannabis compared to other destinations.
“In four or five months, we have the cannabis plant ready to be used. Many investors look (to the Algarve) with interest because most of this product is produced in California (USA), while the transformation process is done in Spain or Germany,” he said.
Original article written by Bruno Filipe Pires for Barlavento newspaper.