Cannabis: Alentejo to become a major world producer – Portugal

By Len Port

A series of recent events indicate that Portugal is on its way to becoming a major producer and exporter of cannabis for medical purposes.

Holigen, a Portuguese company, has joined forces with a Canadian firm and when fully operational next year it could be one of the largest legal cannabis cultivation facilities in the world.

On its 72-hectare site in the Alentejo region north of the Algarve, Holigen will be able to initially produce about 500,000 kilograms of cannabis per year. According to estimates, the annual figure could rise to more than 630,000 kilograms.

Holigen is said to have invested €40 million in the project and sold a 19.8% stake to the Canadian firm Flowr for a cash payment of nearly €4 million.

“We believe this is a transformative transaction that establishes Flowr as a global player in the cannabis industry,” said Vinay Tolia, co-chief executive of The Flowr Corporation. “We’re using our financial strength and industry-leading cultivation expertise to gain exposure to the rapidly expanding European and Australian markets through Holigen.”

Aurora Cannabis Inc., based in Edmonton, Alberta, has signed an agreement to acquire a 51% ownership stake in Gaia Pharma, a Portuguese-based company, with plans to develop a local facility to produce medical cannabis and derivative products. 

The Canadian firm said it had advanced its strategy “to attain early mover advantage in countries with nascent medical marijuana markets.

One of Portugal’s major attractions for such foreign companies is that it has ideal climatic and local cultivation conditions.       

Portugal pioneered the decriminalization of cannabis possession in 2001, but it later fell behind internationally in legalizing cannabis for medical purposes. 

Then in 2018, the Portuguese Parliament passed new legislation governing the cultivation, extraction, commercial preparation, local distribution, import and export, transit and sale of cannabis.

The regulations were endorsed not only by the ruling Socialist and l