Greece is on course to commence the production and sale of medical cannabis in 2022, according to their Minister of Development and Investment, Adonis Georgiadis.
Speaking with Greek Reporter, Georgiadis was confident that the country would be able to take the top spot as the leading medical cannabis producer in Europe, with efforts ramping up this year.
Changing Attitudes to Cannabis in Europe
Attitudes towards cannabis and the perception of the plant have shifted dramatically across European countries over the last 5 years.
Albeit we’re not in a place where there is ubiquitous support for the plant in Europe, cannabis now has enough of a mainstream presence as a safe medicine, that is helping to shift opinions amongst the public and governments alike.
Moreover, the fact that an influential European heavyweight like Germany committed to a regulated cannabis market years ago – and looks set to open their doors to an adult-use market, sooner rather than later – paired with an array of progressive cannabis policies in countries like Portugal, Malta, and Switzerland (to name a few), has given governments around the continent the confidence that they can explore a legal cannabis industry and not be an outlier amongst their peers.
Of course, the medical and social benefits of the plant are abundant, but we shouldn’t forget the huge economic opportunity that the cannabis industry presents to legislators, eying up a piece of the green pie.
Greece and the Green Rush
Progress has been slow in Greece since medical cannabis was legalized in 2017, but efforts to get the wheels properly turning to create a domestic industry – and one that can operate within the global marketplace – have intensified.
It’s no secret that the Greek economy has had a tricky 15 years or so. Additionally, as a country that is heavily reliant on an inbound tourism industry, the COVID pandemic compounded the countries economic difficulties, as it did for many others around the world.
The economic opportunity that cannabis offers could well be the catalyst for things moving at pace in 2022, with Greece aiming to generate approximately €1.5bn annually for the government coffers, in becoming a medical cannabis production powerhouse in Europe.
“The goal is for Greece to become the top European country in the production of medical cannabis” exclaimed Georgiadis.
Investment is already flowing into the country, via a partnership with Tikun Europe (a subsidiary of the Israeli cannabis company, Tikun Olam) who have been granted a license to cultivate, produce and process cannabis in Greece. Additionally, other firms from the UK and Canada are thought to be in advanced talks with the government to make a similar play.
The favourable climate and relatively low wages in Greece (compared to some countries in Europe) gives Georgiadis confidence that the country will be able to steal a march on rival countries on the continent.
Georgiadis continues “Greece’s environment is friendly for this particular plant and we think we will have a natural advantage”.
Competition will be fierce though, as there are a handful of European suitors who also feel that they have a similarly competitive edge. Moreover, countries like Portugal have already seen big investment into the country by operators like Tilray.
It will be interesting to see how the medical cannabis market develops in Greece, and whether they’re able to meet their 2022 targets.
If they are, Greek citizens – in addition to fellow Europeans with “a prescription from their doctor” – should be able to purchase medical cannabis from pharmacies in Greece this year.
For the time being though, recreational cannabis remains illegal; a policy that doesn’t look like it will shift for a while. Step by step.
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