ATHENS – Keen interest in Greece's now-legal medical marijuana business – with 26 licenses approved so far – will bring more than 100 million euros ($108.9 million) in capital investments over the next three years, likely to grow even more.
That's for the initial creation of sites in northern Greece to grow and process what's called pharmaceutical cannabis products – marijuana – based on the number of licenses okayed by the economy and development ministry, said the business newspaper Naftemporiki.
It's been mostly foreign companies looking to invest in the new business with seven units set up so far in central Macedonia, including four in the Kilkis prefecture, near the free-trade-type zone at the major port of Thessaloniki, the country's second-largest city.
Combined with the availability of land need for the product's the region is a prime spot for investors, the paper noted, with another point of export for future pharmaceutical cannabis products being the major port of Piraeus, one of the European Union's busiest.
In August, speaking to Prohibition Partners, a spokesperson for the new New Democracy said the government is “very excited about the possibilities of medicinal cannabis” with the state actively “seeking international investment.”
Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis said getting more foreign companies was one of his top priorities in a bid to speed a slow recovery from a 9 ½-year-long economic crisis and the Aug. 20, 2018 end of three international bailouts of 326 billion euros ($355 billion.)
The government, sworn in after winning July 7 snap elections over the former ruling Radical Left SYRIZA, new licenses will eventually lead to around €360 million ($392.02 million) of investment and create up to 2,250 jobs, the site said.
At that point there were 72 applications and four rejected, the report added, with 42 others still under review, showing the sharp interest in the marijuana cultivation, although recreational use is still outlawed if widely ignored.
So far, no firm had by then gained all three licenses required to begin production but there are expectations the process will be accelerated so that businesses can be up and running over the next year.
“There has been a change in government, but the new administration fully supports this type of initiative” Costas Vamvakas, Managing Director of Athens-based VK PREMIUM consulting group told Prohibition Partners.
“The country needs cash, and this is pure foreign direct investment. Ministers have told me explicitly they fully support the medicinal cannabis industry and will do everything to back it,” he said, adding he expects more investment with companies from Canada, Israel and The Netherlands also eager to bid.
“The market wants packaged dry flower, so expect a lot of high-THC production for medicinal use,” Vamvakas said. “The problem is there are some gray areas around THC production, and firms may require more explicit guidance from the government.”
The site said Greece is primed to be a big player in the European Union cannabis market could be worth up to €123 billion ($137.42 billion) by 2028 and the country could have an edge if it becomes, as Mitsotakis promised, more business-friendly.
Greece legalized medical cannabis in 2017, and in March 2018 repealed a ban on cultivation and production but businesses must set up a Greek company to buy or lease the land, and then prepare the documentation for the installation license and then apply for an operations license and a medical license from the National Organisation for Medicines to begin their businesses.