Authors: Ricardo Costa Macedo / Adriana Magalhães
Early in 2023, Portugal has increased the maximum allowed THC level for industrial hemp, while the Portuguese Customs Authority has issued guidance on the import/export of cannabis medicines/products for medicinal purposes, namely for personal use.
Increase of THC level in the cultivation of the cannabis plant for industrial purposes
It is well known that, as regards the cultivation of the cannabis plant for industrial purposes, for obtaining fiber and seeds other than for sowing, including for food use or animal feed or for the manufacture of food or compound feedingstuffs, only varieties listed in the Common Catalogue of Varieties of Agricultural Plant Species and containing a reduced tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) content are admissible in Portugal.
In order to maintain consistency with European legislation, Portugal has recently updated the maximum THC level limit for industrial hemp from 0.2% to 0.3%.
This increase in the maximum allowed THC level brings producers established in Portugal closer to producers in other parts of Europe and the world.
Guidance on customs procedures regarding the import and export of medicinal products/cannabis products for medicinal purposes
In order to streamline and clarify customs procedures regarding the import and export of medicines, preparations and substances based on the cannabis plant for medicinal, medical-veterinary or scientific research purposes, preventing them from becoming a risk to public health and safety, the Portuguese Customs Authority has issued official guidance determining new conditions.
According to the Portuguese Customs Authority, the release for free circulation and export of medicines, preparations and substances made from the cannabis plant for medicinal, medical-veterinary or scientific research purposes may only be carried out by entities or companies authorized by INFARMED to carry out activities related to the cultivation, manufacture or wholesale marketing, transport, circulation, import and export of medicines, preparations and substances made from the cannabis plant for medicinal purposes.
Therefore, firstly, it is necessary that the importer/exporter holds a generic import/export authorization.
In addition, and in accordance with the guidance, with regard to the import/export of this type of medicine/product, entities or companies must also hold an import/export certificate proving prior authorization for each import/export operation, also issued by INFARMED.
Also, according to this guidance, if Customs find that goods are being imported or exported without the respective documentation, they have the duty to take regularization measures, which may lead to the annulment of the customs declaration, the re-export of the imported goods or the destruction of the goods being exported.
Importing of medicinal cannabis products for personal use
Another issue that is clarified in aforementioned guidance of the Portuguese Customs Authority regards the import by travelers – whether a traveler from the European Union returning to the European Union or a traveler established in a third country – of small quantities of medicinal cannabis products for personal use in their luggage.
According to this guidance, such importing is allowed, provided that in a quantity not exceeding 30 days of treatment and accompanied by a medical prescription plus the invoice for the purchase of the products, which documents must be presented at the request of Customs.
On the other hand, small consignments/orders of this type of medicines/products for private individuals are prohibited.
Ricardo Costa Macedo / Adriana Magalhães