Medical cannabis use was legalised in Greece in June 2017. Shortly thereafter, in March 2018, lawmakers approved a law allowing the farming and processing of medical cannabis in Greece. This decision was the latest in Greece’s recent history of anti-prohibition stances, including the legalisation and reintroduction of hemp in May 2016. The decision to reintroduce hemp was borne out of a desire to reignite the cultivation industry and create commercial trade in natural hemp products.
In the near future, the country will rely on imported cannabis from nations with an existing, established cannabis cultivation infrastructure to supply its patients. The government, however, are keen to develop a full process cannabis system in the mid to long term in order to support the ailing agriculture industry and help boost the economy. Greece will seek to develop a cultivation, processing and distribution sector.
Greece will benefit from a predominantly export-based cannabis industry. As of March 2018, five consortiums have already approached the Deputy Economy Minister, Stergios Pitsiorlas, with investment plans to cultivate cannabis for medical use. The value of the investment plans is estimated to be €1b.
On 2 March 2018, the Greek government introduced Law 4523/2018 and announced plans to cultivate cannabis for domestic consumption and export. In the immediate aftermath, a number of interested parties had contacted the Ministry of Economy and Development.
Among the interested parties are two of the world’s biggest companies in the sector, both from Canada – Aphria and Canopy Growth. Aphria plans in the next four years to develop 92,000 square meters of greenhouses with a production capacity of more than 100 tonnes, creating up to 500 jobs until 2021. Canopy Growth aims to invest over €50 million, initially for the creation of 50,000 sq.m. that will gradually expand to 100,000 sq.m. of cultivation, which will create between 500 and 1000 jobs.
ICC International Cannabis Corp. (Vancouver, Canada) controls a 16-acre land parcel situated in northern Greece, which upon receipt of the medicinal cannabis licence will be dedicated to medical grade cannabis cultivation, extraction, distribution, as well as research and development. Upon receiving final approval from the appropriate Greek authorities, ICC plans to break ground on the construction of three cultivation, processing and extraction structures with a total footprint of 97,000 square feet.
A subsidiary of Golden Greece Holdings, Cannatec plans investments in plants for processing industrial hemp and pharmaceutical cannabis amounting to at least 255 million euros. Processing plants will be based in northern Greece. The first will be based in Kilkis and is scheduled to be completed in April or May 2019, with an initial budget of 150 million euros. After Kilkis, another four consortiums operating under Golden Greece Holdings are planning further cannabis production investments in Polykastro (70 million euros), Lagada (15 million euros) and Veria (20 million euros) with plans for a further plant in Kavala were close to being finalized.
Shanghai-based Europacific Medical has a €20 million investment plan for Greece, as does HAPA Medical Holdings BV, based in the Netherlands.