Interest In Hemp Cultivation For A Variety Of Uses Is On The Rise

Ricardo Costa Macedo   | Advogado & Partner

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Portugal has recently published Regulatory-Decree No. 2/2020, of August 4, which establishes the framework for the cultivation and industrial exploitation of hemp varieties, thus putting an end to much uncertainty that was being felt in the Country.

In fact, since the publication in Portugal of Decree-Law No. 8/2019 which regulates the Law of Cannabis for Medical Use, establishing the rules for its usage, the procedures that farmers had to follow to obtain the due authorization for hemp cultivation were halted by the authorities.

Uncertainty in the rules for obtaining authorisation for hemp cultivation in Portugal was a consequence of the modifications introduced by said Decree-Law No. 8/2019 to the Regulatory-Decree 61/94, of October 12, which regulates in further detail the anti-narcotics legal framework.

These modifications entailed that an ordinance would be issued by Government members, with the purpose of regulating the granting of authorizations for the exercise of the activity of cultivation of the cannabis plant for industrial purposes, which never came about.

In addition, there were also doubts regarding the competent authority that should oversee the granting of these authorizations for hemp cultivation, whether the INFARMED or DGAV.

The recently published Regulatory-Decree No. 2/2020 once again modifies Regulatory-Decree No. 61/94, and sets forth that in case of hemp cultivation for industrial purposes, including for foodstuffs and animal feeding, authorization for said production can be sought before the DGAV (the Portuguese Food and Veterinary General Directorate). Said Regulatory-Decree also defines the applicable administrative fees.

According to this new Regulatory-Decree, the requirement to seek authorization for conducting the described activities is attributable to the varieties of Cannabis Sativa for hemp cultivation (regardless of the final destiny of their production) not being distinguishable from the varieties with tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) contents of more than 0,2 %.

As is known, increases in THC contents beyond those defined by the common organisation of the markets in industrial hemp is a possibility because of natural fluctuations caused by growing conditions.

As for the control functions regarding hemp cultivation for industrial purposes, these shall be performed by the Institute for Financing of Agriculture and Fisheries, jointly with the Portuguese Criminal Police, the Republican National Guard, and the Public Security Police.

There is a growing national and international interest in hemp cultivation for a variety of uses, from cosmetics to medicines for human and veterinary use, including the production of fibres and seeds for the agro-industrial sector. This Regulatory-Decree underlines the economic potential of hemp cultivation for industrial purposes and appears to pave the way for the growth of this market in Portugal.

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Lisbon, 31st August, 2020

Ricardo Costa Macedo | Diana Mâncio da Costa