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What you need to know to invest in medical cannabis in Portugal



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An industrial investment project, specifically in the field of cannabis, was not possible or authorized in Portugal until a few years ago. Fortunately, our country quickly evolved towards licensing the activity at an agricultural (planting) and industrial (processing) level, with Infarmed and for various industries. Yes, there are several projects that could go to Spain or other European countries, but Portugal was a pioneer in implementing the legislation, under pressure from investors and the national political force, which is to be commended. 

For the approval of the first projects in Portugal, when legislation was not yet available, the know-how of companies that already operated in other countries, but that wanted to come to Portugal, played a fundamental role, as it allowed the presentation of the manufacturing process, the GMP process (Good Manufacturing Practices) as a practical example already applied and approved. This strategy allowed Infarmed to take the necessary steps towards approval and was a truly innovative vision, because in about three years it allowed for a strong investment in the cannabis area to be brought to Portugal.

But, what are the main steps to move towards this type of investment? We leave here 5 fundamental points for any project that is intended to be implemented in Portuguese territory.

O 1 th step is to know in which country there is applicable legislation. This step has already been achieved: choose Portugal!

2 Step: identify which part of the planting process or culture you want to develop in your business and which customer target has. Yes, for your process to be viable, you must ensure that you have a foreign market to sell your final product, because in Portugal there is still no distribution of pharmaceutical products with cannabis raw material.

3rd Step: after knowing what type of activity you will develop, in case it is just planting, think about the origin of your seed and whether it is to be cultivated in an indoor or outdoor system, etc.

If it is an industry, after obtaining the raw material, the definition of the needs of the manufacturing process begins and from there the requirements for the building and which part of the country it should go to.

If you choose Cultivation and Industry, there are two approval processes with the entities, because land in Portugal is defined as rustic land and urban land, the latter having to have industrial characteristics.

4rd Step: search for existing land or building. For both cultivation and manufacture, the availability of water and its supply is one of the key points in demand. Another situation is the proximity or agreement made with local entities to obtain a “Transformation Station” that guarantees these needs. Depending on the culture or industry, including other energy sources, such as biomass and solar energy, is an option to be considered by companies that want to be energy sustainable.

When we are talking about the agricultural aspect, ensure that it is a Rustic land. Leasing has been the most common option in existing projects, with contracts for a minimum of 10 years. It is necessary to bear in mind that, before considering this investment, the obligation in terms of security in space, for a small plot of land and for a few years, can make the investment unfeasible. It is necessary to guarantee a 24/7 security system and other physical barriers that guarantee the impossibility of accessing the raw material.

When looking for a solution for manufacturing, the building or land has to be framed in terms of urban planning for industrial use. This has been a challenge in the country, because often the size of the land/building that is sought is not compatible with the areas with the territorial classification for the intended industry. Fortunately, with the support of several municipalities, it has been possible to obtain a solution.

5 Step: assess whether the investment includes more than 50 local workers and whether the investment exceeds 25ME, if any, or other important characteristics such as an innovative project, integration of research with national universities and polytechnics and new techniques in the European or even world market, among others options. This is a project that can lead to an application for the PIN Project (Potential National Interest), which has the following advantages:

  1. Assessment by all state investment bodies and subsequent rapid approval of the process;
  2. Facility, as an interesting project for the development of the country, in accessing state support from community funds;
  3. Feasibility of requesting a part of the investment from the Portuguese banks.

The CPAI – Permanent Commission for Investor Support is the team at AICEP – Agency for Investment and Foreign Trade of Portugal, under the supervision of the Ministry of Economy, which consults all entities and evaluates the opinion with an always “urgent” nature. of each PIN project.

After carrying out all these steps, and with a business plan that includes all aspects of the project, both for the investor and for the entities (for example, in the situation of the PIN approval), the demonstration must be not only in the view of the feasibility of investing and the credibility of investors, but also ensuring that there is a market for the product to be sold.

In short, whoever wants to start a cannabis investment project, the advice is: either choose a project that has already started, evaluate and invest, or create an expert team in the area, in the various components, and have a successful process.

Final note: Experience with cannabis projects in Portugal tells us that there are several factors and the work of several entities as a team that allow these processes to be successful.
* Susan Medeiros Cabeceiras is from Toronto, Canada, where she spent her childhood. She grew up in the Azores, on the island of São Miguel, her parents' land, later coming to study in Lisbon, the city in which she chose to live and work. Always fascinated by architecture and the construction of spaces and environments, she completed her degree in Architecture, specializing throughout her professional activity in the area of ​​industrial, retail and commercial licensing. Senior Safety Technician, Fire Safety expert and with a Master's degree in Sales Management, Susan Cabeceiras started an entrepreneurial path, creating in 2009 her own company, Konceptness. Since 2018, at the dawn of the first cannabis companies in Portugal, Konceptness has led the start-up and implementation of projects, accounting for five support projects on various fronts. Konceptness is the market leader in consulting on buildings in the industry, with experience in residential, commercial, service, health and leisure buildings and has a team with more than 18 years of experience in the Architecture, Engineering and Environment market.



[Disclaimer: Please note that this text was originally written in Portuguese and is translated into English and other languages ​​using an automatic translator. Some words may differ from the original and typos or errors may occur in other languages.]


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