In early 2022 Portugal has introduced relevant changes to the rules on cannabis cultivation for industrial purposes, thus bringing much awaited clarity to this activity.
In fact, Ordinance nº 83/2021 was updated, which defines the requirements and procedures for granting authorizations for activities related to the cultivation, manufacture, wholesale trade, transport, circulation, import, and export of medicines, preparations, and substances based on the cannabis plant.
The legislator felt the need to clarify the differences between cannabis cultivation for medicinal purposes and cannabis cultivation for industrial purposes, thus densifying different requirements and procedures for obtaining a license for this latter activity.
In order to distinguish between the production of cannabis for medicinal purposes or for industrial purposes, the legislator has changed article 3 of the Ordinance, setting yearly deadlines (31st of July of each cultivating year) for submitting the authorization request to the Directorate-General for Food and Veterinary Office (DGAV), and adding a subparagraph stipulating that the application must inter alia specify the recipients of the production and which products are to be produced.
Furthermore, article 3-A was added to this Ordinance, establishing the technical requirements applicable to the cultivation of the cannabis plant for industrial purposes.
This is probably the most substantial legislative change, and it is also the one that contributes most to the differentiation between the requirements that need to be met in order to cultivate the cannabis plant for industrial purposes.
Article 3-A establishes the agronomic conditions suitable for the cultivation of the industrial hemp plant (e.g. it must be grown outdoors, by sowing, with a certain minimum cultivation area, among other requirements), while also prohibiting the transport of flowering tops outside the farm, whether or not containing seeds, and determines the destination to be given to unused seed packages that have been purchased and associated with authorization application processes, establishing that they must be kept with their original seal.
In Portugal industrial hemp production requires an authorization from the Directorate-General for Food and Veterinary Office (DGAV).
Such authorization only covers the cultivation of cannabis sativa for industrial purposes by obtaining fibre and seeds not intended for sowing, including for food or feed use or for the manufacture of compound feedingstuffs or feedingstuffs, or for experimental purposes for the same intents.
For cultivation whose production is intended for other purposes, requests for authorisation should be addressed to the INFARMED.
Control over the cultivation of industrial hemp in Portugal is carried out by four state agencies: the Agriculture and Fisheries Financing Institute, the Judiciary Police, the National Republican Guard and the Public Security Police.
These amendments to Ordinance 83/2021 arise from experience gathered with the implementation of legislation relating to the authorisation process for the cultivation of cannabis in Portugal, better detailing procedures and technical requirements applicable to the cultivation of cannabis for industrial purposes so that this cultivation is conducted in the best agronomic conditions and better adapted to this purpose.
These are significant development as regards clarifying the pathway to obtain a license to cultivate and produce cannabis for industrial purposes in Portugal.
Ricardo Costa Macedo / Raquel Soares Lourenço / Rafael Cunha Jóia