TURNING A PAGE
“Greece is turning the page…. we will now be included in a list of countries where the delivery of medical cannabis to patients in need is legal”.
The Greek Prime Minister, Alexis Tsipras made this comment on 30th June as he and Health Minister, Andreas Xanthos announced that Greece is to become the seventh European country to legalise cannabis for medical use.
Greece now joins the Czech Republic, Finland, Germany, Netherlands, Portugal and Spain in an ever-growing list of European countries recognising the medical benefits of cannabis. The announcement comes as the latest in Greece’s recent history of anti-prohibition stances – including the decision to legalise and re-introduce hemp in May 2016.
The specifics of production and distribution are yet to be revealed by the left-wing Syriza party – although Tsipras did confirm that cannabis would be downgraded from a Table A to a Table B substance (the equivalent of a Class A to Class B shift in the UK) under Greece’s regulatory structure. Effectively, this means cannabis will be recognised as a drug that has accepted medical use in the treatment of certain conditions. According the Greek Minister for Health, these conditions will include chronic pain, neuropathic pain, nausea / vomiting due to chemotherapy and some eating disorders.
AN ECONOMIC OPPORTUNITY
It’s likely the country will rely on imported cannabis as there is no domestic cultivation system currently in place. This will probably come from nations that already have an established infrastructure and experience in cannabis production. The obvious example if Canada that has already gained a foothold on Germany’s nascent medical cannabis market.
Nevertheless, the impact medical cannabis could have on Greece’s struggling economy could be substantial. In Canada, for example, Deloitte estimated that a legal cannabis market could be worth $23 billion a year (just over 1.5% of their annual GDP in 2016), which is more than their beer, wine and spirits sales combined. If Greece were to benefit from medical cannabis to this degree, it could mean an injection of up to €3 billion into the economy, which would certainly set a precedent to the remaining European nations who are yet to stake their place in Europe’s fastest-growing marketplace.