It was back in June 2017, that Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras announced that medical cannabis was now legal with a doctor’s prescription. At that time, Tsipras commented, “From now on, the country is turning its page, as Greece is now included in countries where the delivery of medical cannabis to patients in need is legal.”
It was in March of this year that Parliament took the next step, and approved a law authorising the cultivation and production of medical cannabis in Greece. This means that cannabis will be downgraded from a Table A to a Table B substance, and will now be accepted as a drug used to treat certain conditions, such as chronic pain, neuropathic pain, and nausea, caused by chemotherapy and some eating disorders. However, use of the product will not be subsidised by state health plans.
Greece joins several countries, including Britain, Germany, Italy, and Denmark, that allow prescriptions for medicinal cannabis. In June, Canada became the second country in the world to fully legalise cannabis, ending a 90-year ban. Uruguay was the first country to do so.
In the Prohibition Partners’ European Cannabis Report, which stated that “the impact that medical cannabis could have on Greece’s struggling economy could be substantial.” It added that “if Greece were to benefit from medical cannabis to the same extent as other countries that have introduced medical cannabis, it could inject up to 2 billion euros into the economy.”
In late November, Greece awarded its first marijuana grow licenses to two privately owned companies; officially opening the door to both cultivation of the plant, as well as related opportunities for international and domestic sales and exports. Greece has still not unveiled the framework for how patients and hospitals will obtain access to medical cannabis, but plans are already in motion to take advantage of the new import-export opportunities. The product is expected to hit the market in 12-18 months.
This market is worth billions of euros. While the business is projected to grow all over the world, it is especially likely to boom in Europe. Currently, Europe mostly relies on international imports, but there is a growing push for European cultivation – and Greece got in on the ground floor, just after Denmark. International companies are set to bring over 1 billion Euros into Greece’s nascent medical cannabis sector. There is expected to be increased European demand for the product. Deputy Economy Minister Stergios Pitsiorlas, said there is notable interest from companies in Israel and Canada specifically, including Leamington and Aphria.
Currently, Greece’s legal framework allows for exports, so long as the receiving country has the necessary import license. This opens up massive export opportunities for Greece.
“The impact that medical cannabis could have on Greece’s struggling economy could be substantial,” said the Deputy Economy Minister Stergios Pitsiorlas, in a Reuters interview.
The first licensed cannabis hothouses will be in Larisa in central Greece, and in Corinth in the Peloponnese. One of the initially licensed companies, Bioprocann S.A., has an eye on growing for export. They are unveiling a state-of-the-art setup, utilising a 21,500 square foot indoor cultivation area, complete with 64,500 square feet of greenhouse space. Nikolas Onoufriadis, a principal at Bioprocann, told Marijuana Business Daily that “Exporting is definitely part of our current vision and our strategic approach.”
Another 12 licenses will be issued by the end of this year, bringing the total up to 14 by January. This is expected to create over-all more than 750 jobs, and represents about 185 million euros in investment.
“Our message is that the country is open for investments,” said Vassilis Kokkalis, Deputy Minister of Agriculture.