Stakeholders said after the legislation went into effect last Thursday, January 6, that the amendment placing strict limits on cannabis production in Portugal contravenes EU law and puts the country’s nascent industry at risk.
Humberto Nogueira, vice president of the Association of Industrial Cannabis Trade in Portugal (ACCIP), said growers are concerned about a number of provisions that appear to be specifically aimed at shutting down the trade in cannabis flowers..
Banning the transportation of flowers
Most worrisome is the rule that prohibits the transportation of cannabis flowers from the farm where they are grown – essentially prohibiting trade in one of the plant’s most valuable components.
“There is no legal basis for limiting the trade of the entire cannabis plant,” Nogueira said of this restriction. “At the same time, it limits the profitability of producers and farmers, which is reflected in less hired labor and less fixed and seasonal labour.”
Nogueira said the amendment also bans the cultivation of hemp in indoor facilities and greenhouses, requires farmers to put in at least 0.5 hectares, and places restrictions on the use and handling of planting seeds — all of which discourage incentives for cannabis growers and processors.
Nogueira noted that the amendment does not provide a legal basis for interfering with the agricultural practices of cannabis, which is a legal, certified and subsidized agricultural crop in the European Union (EU), specifically indicating that the rule regarding a minimum cultivation area for hemp exceeds the general rule issued by The Institute for Agriculture and Fisheries Finance (IFAP) sets a minimum of 100 square meters for standard crops.
“The requirement of an area of at least 0.5 hectares to obtain a license to grow industrial hemp is a limiting factor for thousands of small farmers in Portugal,” Nogueira said. According to Nogueira, the amendment also failed to provide justification for penalties for non-compliance with this provision.
Looking for logic
Nogueira said restrictions on the use of seeds in the modification promote wastage while further motivating flower producers. “The farmer is not allowed to sow seeds for sowing due to the risk of contamination of the perforated bags, but allows their direct processing of human and animal food,” Nogueira said.
“Overall, there is a clear intent in the new law to completely eliminate the producers’ chances of making a profit from the cannabis flower, regardless of the purpose that the buyer of the crop will give the product,” Nogueira said.