The Portuguese medical cannabis industry has seen a sharp increase in production and export in recent years.
Latest figures from the country’s health authority, Infarmed, revealed that in the first half of this year, Portugal exported around 5,438 kilograms of medical cannabis. If it maintains the pace, Portugal could surpass its record from last year, which was 9,271 kilograms.
Growth but slowdown
Although the figures depict substantial growth, it is increasing less quickly than in previous years. In 2020, the country exported 4,850 kilograms. In 2021, this figure increased to 5,694 kilograms, showing a gradual increase in medical cannabis export volumes.
The main recipients of Portuguese medical cannabis exports this year are Germany, which comes first with 1,678 kilograms, followed closely by Poland, which received 1,589 kilograms. Australia received 955 kilograms.
Israel, which was previously a significant importer from Portugal, did not import cannabis from that country in 2023 and preferred Canada with 20,907 kilograms for the 2022-23 fiscal year. Canada is globally recognized as a major exporter of medical cannabis flowers, with a nearly 50% increase in exports from April 2022 to March 2023, totaling 59,986 kilograms.
Amidst this growth, Portugal maintains a strong position to emerge as a major producer of medical cannabis on a European and global scale.
Fertile soil in Portugal
Overall, Infarmed has licensed 42 companies for medical cannabis activities, 8 more than in 2022. In addition, 150 additional entities are in the licensing process, which suggests a considerable increase in number of companies involved in the Portuguese cannabis sector in the country in the short term. This year alone, Infarmed has granted 76 new licenses, cumulative within the same company for each specific activity.
The number of authorizations granted by Infarmed for the cultivation, manufacturing, import, export and distribution of cannabis demonstrates the dynamics of the market. Currently, 24 companies have cultivation licenses, while 15 are involved in the manufacturing and preparation of substances. 12 have licenses for wholesale trade and 32 are authorized to import and export. Impressively, 17 of these companies have achieved EU GMP (Good Manufacturing Practice) certification.
Despite substantial export volumes, medical cannabis remains very inaccessible in Portugal. Only 524 packets of the only substance available, Tilray Flor Seca with 18% THC, were prescribed to Portuguese patients.