The growing demand for medical cannabis has pressed for its legalization around the world. One of the factors for this development was the therapeutic potential of the plant. Nowadays, more than 55 countries worldwide have legalized the consumption of cannabis products for medicinal purposes. Today, much of the cannabis consumption is concentrated in North America, while it still remains illegal in most parts of Africa and Asia. The main obstacle to the use of medical cannabis is the stigma attached to it, as well as its regulatory framework. In a more optimistic perspective, some trends with positive impact on the development of this industry are the intensification of R&D and innovation activity, both in corporate and non-corporate contexts, the reduction of the size of the illegal market and the increasing attraction of investment.
Portugal presents favorable conditions for this industry, such as:
- Climatic conditions aligned with the requirements of efficient cultivation and processing of the cannabis plant;
- Attractive regulatory framework and little penalization, when compared with other geographies;
- Access to human resources with skills aligned with the needs of the medical cannabis industry at a competitive cost;
- Territory and security characterized with a geostrategic position combined with a high level of security and low crime;
- Supportive entities that allow support to the industry and foster business competitiveness.
Of the specific regulatory process in the area in Portugal, the most relevant are: Law No. 33/2018 of July 18: Established the legal framework for the use of substances based on the cannabis plant for medicinal purposes, Decree-Law No. 8/2019, of January 15th and Directive no. 83/2021, of April 15th.
According to statistics from October 2022, in Portugal, were attributed 5 different types of licenses:
- 20 licenses for Cultivation of controlled substances/cannabis;
- 22 licenses for Import of preparations and substances based on the cannabis plant;
- 23 licenses for Exportation of preparations and substances based on the cannabis plant;
- 8 licenses for Manufacture of preparations and substances based on the cannabis plant;
- 8 licenses for Wholesale of preparations and substances based on the cannabis plant.