Portugal has updated its rules for cannabis cultivation with new guidelines for the hemp industry.
Last week, a ministerial order was published that details rules for cultivating cannabis and industrial hemp, after it became apparent the existing legislation didn’t provide enough clarity.
The order is the first amendment to Ordinance 83/2021, which defined the requirements and procedures for authorizing the cultivation, manufacture, wholesale trade, transport, circulation, import and export of medicines, preparations and substances made from the cannabis plant.
Through the amendment, cultivation of hemp for industrial purposes is differentiated from cultivation of the cannabis plant for other reasons.
The new order only allows hemp to be grown outdoors, and prohibits growing plants in greenhouses or transplanting them. Transporting flowers, whether they contain seeds or not, isn’t allowed either.
The minimum production area has been set at half a hectare (5,000 square metres), shutting out some small farmers.
Some rules around medical cannabis production were amended too.
Lawyer Ricardo Rocha from Portuguese law firm PLMJ says for activities involving cannabis production for medical purposes, the order requires a technical manager to be a pharmacist “with a pharmaceutical industry specialist qualification only in the case of manufacture of medicines, substances and preparations.”
“The requirement for this specialization will be waived in cases where only active substances for the pharmaceutical industry are manufactured.”
The amendment adds regulation of the wholesale trade of the plant, part of the plant or active substances based on the cannabis plant for medicinal purposes, Rocha adds.
Meanwhile, legalization efforts in Portugal have stalled.
A pair of adult-use cannabis bills introduced last summer expired with the parliamentary session in December, according to CannaReporter. The bills will need to be reintroduced in the next legislative session.
It’s not the first attempt to legalize cannabis in Portugal. A proposal to fully legalize cannabis in 2013 was rejected, though it’s been legal for medical reasons since 2018.
And while medical pot is legal, it isn’t easily accessible.
“Although the regulatory framework is established, the truth is that the use of medical cannabis products is still residual. On the one hand, the market does not have a significant number of alternatives. In the case of medicines, at the moment only Sativex is sold on the Portuguese market at a relatively high price, even though it is subject to co-payment by the State,” Rocha said in November.