Cannabis in Greece: Interview of Managing Director Costas VamvakasMarch 20, 2019
The Fourth and Fifth installation licenseApril 9, 2019
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, is 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, many consortiums have 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.
Multiple companies have claimed to have acquired cannabis licences in Greece but no cultivators have planted high THC cannabis in the country. The government has put in place a three phase licencing system and while multiple firms have passed phase one, receiving a written commitment from the Greek government, no producers have secured all three licences.
Population (m) : 10.7
GDP (€b) :170.2
Ruling Government Party : Syriza Party
Party Stance on Cannabis : Supports Medical Cannabis Products
Total Healthcare Expenditure (€b) : 14.3
Total Beauty Wellbeing Expenditure (€b) : 0.8
Alcohol Consumption (Litres Per Capita Per Year) : 10.4
Prevalence of Tobacco Users (%) : 43.4
Number of Cannabis Users (m) : 0.1
Average Price Per Gram of Cannabis : 17.7
Pharmaceutical Cannabis Legislation
Medical Cannabis Legislation
Legal as a prescribed medication since June 2017. No patients have received any prescribed medicines yet.
Recreational Cannabis Legislation
Illegal. Although very small amounts (<0.5 grams or 1 pure/2 impure cannabis cigarettes) are decriminalised.
CBD Hemp Oil Legislation
Legal (pending legislation on THC limits in food)
Since 2017, Greece has legalised certain cannabis products under prescription and a specific procedure to be followed and supervised by the National Drug Organization (EOF). This means it allows the import of all major cannabis-based pharmaceutical medications. However, those patients that have applied to receive Sativex and Bedrocan have not seen their demands being satisfied yet and there are very few doctors who are willing to prescribe cannabis products.
Medical cannabis manufacturing is legalised in Greece following the rescheduling of cannabis.
Medical cannabis products were legalised in 2018. Under Greece’s licensing system, medicinal cannabis products would be available on prescription from chemists. It would not be subsidised through state health insurance schemes, Health Minister Andreas Xanthos said.
Recreational cannabis use and possession remain illegal in the country for the moment.
Early in 2018, Greece introduced Law 4523/2018, that regulates the production of medical cannabis. A few months prior, the plant was rescheduled, allowing the medical use of cannabis under a state-run programme. A joint ministerial decision from four Greek ministries was introduced in May 2018, setting out the requirements for the licensing of the production facilities. A ministerial decision from the Ministry of Health sets the conditions for receiving the licence to produce cannabis medicines and the conditions of their market authorisation. A Ministerial Decision from the Ministry of Health on medical cannabis registrations, prescriptions, products, conditions and dosage is still pending. According to Andreas Xanthos, the Greek Minister for Health, these conditions will include chronic pain, neuropathic pain, nausea due to chemotherapy, and some eating disorders.
CBD is legal in Greece for sale and cultivation since it is considered a non-psychoactive substance. However, national authorities are reluctant to authorise hemp/ CBD products, especially from Greek producers, since there is no legislation for THC limits in food and supplements (although a recent amendment of law 4139/2013 allows for hemp products to be considered as food).
Total Healthcare Expenditure (€b)
Total Pharmaceutical Spending (€b)
Total Estimated Medicinal Cannabis Allowance 2018 (grams)
Approved Cannabis based Products
Healthcare in Greece consists of a universal healthcare system provided through national health insurance and private healthcare. Healthcare in Greece is provided by the National Healthcare Service (ESY). Healthcare spending took a massive hit during the Greek financial crisis of 2008 and per capita expenditure on healthcare fell by 28%, although the standard of healthcare has not dropped significantly. While Greece aims to introduce a domestic cannabis cultivation industry, medical cannabis will at first be imported. Though the full register of available products is unknown, it is rumoured that Sativex, Epidiolex and medical cannabis will be imported, to begin with.
Forecast Medicinal Cannabis Market Value 2028 (€b)
Forecast Recreational Cannabis Market Value 2028 (€b)
The impact that medical cannabis could have on Greece’s struggling economy could be substantial. If Greece were to benefit from medical cannabis to the same extent as other countries that have introduced medical cannabis, it could inject up to €2b into the economy.
Greece has great potential for developing a strong cannabis industry both for medical and industrial applications due to its geomorphology and climate conditions. However, the licensing system favours vertically integrated companies, which can complete the entire cannabis development cycle including cultivation, production, and processing services. Thus, the new legislation on medical cannabis may exclude local farmers from the process.
On 2 March 2018, the Greek government announced plans to cultivate cannabis for domestic consumption and exports. 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 €50m, initially for the creation of 50,000 square metres that will gradually expand to 100,000 square metres. of cultivation, which will create between 500 and 1,000 jobs.
Golden Greece Cannabis intends to grow cannabis on a one-square-kilometre plot at Naoussa, west of Thessaloniki, and also foresees the construction of a plant to process and produce pharmaceutical products, for a total investment that will start from €400m and exceed €1b after two years. Shanghai-based Europacific Medical has a €20m investment plan for Greece, as does HAPA Medical Holdings BV, based in the Netherlands.
Drug Use : In young adults (15-34 years) in the last year
Females : 3.6%
Males : 5.4%
VK Medical Cannabis have the experience in preparing business plans and application packages for state licenses in the medical cannabis industry.
Specifically, VK Medical Cannabis provides:
- Expert advice on regularity, policy, licensing issues,
- Land search and evaluation,
- Support, preparation and submission of the applications and all the requirements throughout the authorization process,
- Necessary updates during authorization process,
- Guidance on any changes – amendments needed to the applications submitted,
- Investment deployment,
- All mediation services with government and local authorities.
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VK Medical Cannabis is a boutique consulting firm offering expert services to companies that aim to invest in the medical cannabis business in Greece including cultivation, processing and marketing of relevant products.
Through its vast knowledge, knowhow, experience and network, it facilitates the fast realization and successful implementation of investment schemes. Our constant effort and consistency to deliver high quality services, have positioned our firm among the top consultancy agencies in Greece.