The production, export, processing and distribution of both medical and industrial cannabis is expected to be a very promising market in the following years, which will lead to attracting investment while boosting employment and the national economy.
Even though the investment interest in both types of cannabis above has been particularly high in the last years, the implementation of investments in medical cannabis has been met with bureaucracy, impeding the steady growth of such investments. However, the adoption of a relevant law just a few days ago for the production, export and distribution of final medical cannabis products simplified the process of exporting medical cannabis products and ensured the uneventful and safe supply of the Greek market with final medical cannabis products under conditions of maximum security.
On the other hand, investments in industrial cannabis already show a significant increase in our country, as large investment groups from Canada, Israel and the USA have entered the Greek market, developing a substantial activity in the production and export of industrial cannabis products.
The climatic conditions that prevail in Greece all year long enable the country to be not only a spotlight for the production and extraction of cannabis products, but also a scientifically recognized place for research and study of cannabis at European level. The benefits for the national economy are more than obvious.
Licensing of industrial cannabis cultivation in Greece:
With the current legal regime, when we discuss about industrial (or textile) cannabis, we are referring to the varieties of industrial cannabis which are registered in the “Common list of cultivated plant varieties” and contain less than 0.2% of the substance tetrahydrocannabinol (THC).
The relatively immediate and clear process of obtaining a license for the cultivation of industrial cannabis has led both little and big Greek producers as well as leading investment groups abroad to engage in business in the cultivation of varieties of industrial cannabis and its subsequent utilization with the production of various beneficial for the health products, such as cannabis seed oil and various other decoctions derived therefrom.
One of the key factors in obtaining a permit for the cultivation of industrial cannabis is the existence of an irrigated plot, which has fertile soil and an acquired water use permit. Subsequently, the interested party is required to submit to the competent office of the Ministry of Agricultural Development all the necessary legal documents required by Greek law to obtain the relevant license. Finally, the interested person or entity is required to inform this authority of the exact variety of seeds on the European list which they wish to cultivate as well as to strictly follow the legal framework, paying close attention to not exceeding the 0.2% tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) content limit.
The licensing of medical cannabis in Greece:
In Greece, the use of medical cannabis was legalized for the first time in 2017, whereas its cultivation, processing, distribution and export in March 2018 (Law 4523/2018). In particular, the production of final cannabis medical products is authorized and, exceptionally, the production, possession, transport, storage, supply of raw materials and substances of cannabis varieties of Cannabis sativa L with a THC content of more than 0.2% are approved as a whole, with sole purpose either the supply of the medicinal market by the disposal of formulas for medical purposes, or for their export.
The current legal framework, after its recent amendments, allows investments by both natural persons and legal entities from Greece or abroad. In order for such an investment to proceed, some strict conditions required by law must be met; those concern the area and characteristics of the land to be invested, the process of obtaining a license to set up a medical cannabis production establishment and its operation, the production process of a final medical product, the manner of obtaining a relevant marketing authorization for the final medical product by the competent national organization, etc.
The legal framework which is in favor of the investment implementation in the field of cannabis in Greece.
Recently, an attempt has been made in Greece regarding the trading of existing licenses, concerning both medical and industrial cannabis. However, the whole licensing procedure is simple, immediate and clear. Although, the recent amendment of the legal framework regarding the cultivation and production of final medical cannabis products has unlocked the issues presented by the previous law and allows the production of medical cannabis products with the aim to be exported, even if they have not secured distribution approval in Greece yet. Typically, to date, 94 licenses have been issued in our country for the installation of units for the cultivation of medicinal cannabis and about 90 licenses for the cultivation of industrial cannabis.
Our law firm has successfully handled licensing cases for both medical and industrial cannabis. The most recent case concerns the investment of foreign investors, who obtained a license for industrial cannabis, which is currently being implemented in an area of 40 acres in Epanomi, Thessaloniki. The first production of their unit is expected immediately after the summer of 2021.