Cannabis business boom expected
By Len Port
Portugal is on its way to becoming a major producer and exporter of cannabis for medical purposes.
Holigen, a Portuguese company, has joined forces with a Canadian firm and, when fully operational next year, could be one of the largest legal cannabis cultivation facilities in the world.
On its 72-hectare site in the Alentejo region, Holigen will be able to initially produce about 500,000 kg of cannabis per annum. According to estimates, the annual figure could rise to more than 630,000 kg.
Holigen is said to have invested €40 million in the project and sold a 19.8% stake to the Canadian firm Flowr for a cash payment of nearly €4 million.
“We believe that this is a transformative transaction that establishes Flowr as a global player in the cannabis industry”, said Vinay Tolia, co-chief executive of the Flowr Corporation.
“We’re using our financial strength and industry-leading cultivation expertise to gain exposure to the rapidly expanding European and Australian markets through Holigen.”
Aurora Cannabis Inc, based in Edmonton, Alberta, has signed an agreement to acquire a 51% ownership stake in Gaia Pharma, a Portuguese-based company with plans to develop a local facility to produce medical cannabis and derivative products.
The Canadian firm said it had advanced its strategy to “attain early mover advantage in countries with nascent medical marijuana markets”.
One of Portugal’s major attractions for such foreign companies is that it has the ideal climatic and local cultivation conditions.
Portugal pioneered the decriminalization of cannabis possession in 2001, but it later fell behind internationally in legalising cannabis for medical purposes.
Then in 2018, the Portuguese Parliament passed new legislation governing the cultivation, extraction, commercial preparation, local distribution, import and export, transit and sale of cannabis.
The regulations were not only endorsed by the ruling Socialist and left-wing alliance, but by the right-of-centre PSD social democrats, the largest single party in parliament.
The move was strongly promoted and welcomed by Portugal’s leading association of medical doctors, but cannabis is still not available as a prescription medication in local pharmacies.
Some research pharmacists are opposed to it in the belief that there is no solid scientific evidence to prove the efficacy and safety of cannabis use.
*The original article was published in full in the Algarve Resident weekly English language newspaper at https://www.portugalresident.com/2019/03/04/cannabis-business-boom-expected/ Len Port is a journalist and author based in the Algarve and can be followed on his blog at algarvenewswatch.blogspot.pt