How to Get a Cannabis License in Portugal

How to Get a Cannabis License in Portugal

Do you know how to become a licensed producer in Portugal?

Cannabis, especially medical cannabis, is gaining global acceptance. Canada has led the way in cannabis legalization and regulation. Canadian cannabis companies have also been helping other nations such as Colombia and Germany produce medical-grade cannabis to support their own programs. Cannabis investors and entrepreneurs are now paying attention to Portugal. In addition to having its own medical cannabis program, Portugal has a great climate and location for cannabis cultivation for export. Outdoor cannabis grows well in Portugal and can be produced at a lower cost when compared to other European nations with cooler climates. So how does one start growing cannabis in Portugal? Continue reading for a comprehensive guide to help you become a licensed cannabis producer in Portugal.

Cannabis Market Size in Portugal

The cannabis market in Portugal is growing by leaps and bounds. So much so that in 2021, Portugal's National Medical Authority, Infarmed reported that the country exported approximately 30 tons of dried cannabis in 2021, which is a 600% increase from the misely 4.5 tons exported in 2020.

According to Statista, revenues in the portuguese cannabis market are projected to reach $180.3m in 2023 (a 29% growth from 2022), and revenue is expected to grow at an annual rate of 15.02% from 2023 to 2028. Meaning the Portuguese market is expected to grow to $363m by 2028.

Medical Cannabis Prescriptions in Portugal

Cannabis in Portugal is decriminalized, but it is not considered to be legal unless it is prescribed by a doctor and dispensed by a pharmacy. Medical cannabis can only be prescribed if conventional treatments have failed to work. The doctor writes the patient a prescription for a specific type of cannabis product and a specific dosage.

Using Cannabis in Portugal Without a Medicinal License

Portugal has a relatively liberal drug policy. In fact, cannabis isn't the only drug that is decriminalized, every drug is decriminialized. This means that small-scale use and possession of cannabis won't lead to criminal charges.

The caveat is that you can only posess up to 25 grams of cannabis flower, or 5 grams of hashish for personal use. If you are caught with cannabis, or hashish, you may still get a warning or fine (depending on the police officer, ofcourse). If a person is caught possessing for the second time, they may have to complete a treatment program, or a light sanction like that.

Selling Cannabis is Still Illegal

Even though cannabis has been decriminalized, selling cannabis is still illegal. Anyone that is caught trafficking, distributing, or cultivating cannabis (without a license) will be subject to criminal charges. The punishements may also depend on the scale of the crime.

Applying for a Cannabis Cultivation License in Portugal

Infarmed is the Portuguese regulatory body that is responsible for regulating medical cannabis in Portugal. If you want to become a licensed cannabis producer in Portugal, their website will be your first stop for information. 

The regulations for medical cannabis in Portugal are outlined in “Decreto Regulamentar n.º 61/94, de 12 de outubro." When it comes to how many cannabis cultivation licenses Portugal will grant, Chapter II, Section I, Article 5 of the regulations state (translated via Google Translate), “2 - Authorizations are only granted if based on the needs of the country, giving priority to medical, veterinary, scientific and didactic interests, with due regard for the exceptions provided for in the conventions referred to in article 3.” Medical cannabis cultivation licenses in Portugal are limited by quotas that are set by Infarmed which differs from licensing in places like Canada where recreational cannabis is also legal. There are supposedly long wait times and a significant backlog of applicants at this time, so it may be harder to become a licensed producer in Portugal than other countries.

Cultivation Licenses

Portuguese cannabis cultivation licenses are valid for one year and must be renewed annually. The cannabis cultivation licensing process requires applications to be submitted to Infarmed along with requests for criminal background checks for the indicated responsible persons. Infarmed collaborates with other government agencies such as Judiciary Police (PJ), the Public Security Police (PSP), the Republican National Guard (GNR), and the Directorate-General for Customs and Special Consumption Taxes (DGAIEC) and informs them of all cultivation license authorizations.

An application for a Portuguese cannabis cultivation license must include the following information that is outlined in Chapter II, Section II, Article 13, along with the request for criminal background checks:

  • Complete identification and address of the grower or growers (if they are not the same person as the license applicant)
  • Location and area of land where medical cannabis will be cultivated
  • Quantity and designation of the plant species to be sown or planted
  • Probable quantity of the product to be collected, its application, and destination (surpluses over 10% are not allowed and will be seized at the producer’s expense)
  • Place where the product will be stored and the respective safety conditions until it is delivered to the official agency responsible for collection

Hemp cultivation is regulated through the National Agricultural Intervention and Guarantee Institute jointly with the Judicial Police and is not regulated the same way as medical cannabis.

Cannabis Extraction Licenses

Extracting and manufacturing cannabis in Portugal requires additional authorizations. The application process is similar to the cultivation license. Again, Infarmed limits licensure to avoid the production of excess materials that surpass the needs of the legal market. Infarmed sets annual quotas but is allowed to adjust them during the year as needed. There are also additional authorizations that are needed in order to sell wholesale medical cannabis, and for importing and exporting cannabis.

How Many Medical Cannabis Licenses Have Been Granted In Portugal So Far?

Infarmed used to be relatively stringent in their review, and approval of medical cannabis cultivation licenses. In fact, in 2021, only 19 out of the 114 applications for medicinal cannabis cultivation were approved. 

That being said, there is definitely strong demand for licenses, as there were over 100 applications that were begun in 2022, by September 2022. The government is also becoming more lax with license approvals, especially as other EU countries adopt cannabis friendly laws. According to data from Infarmed, 61 licenses had been granted by September 2022, 20 of which are for cultivation, 8 for processing, 23 for import/export and 10 for marketing.

Companies That Are Licensed to Grow Cannabis in Portugal

Here are a list of active companies that are licensed to grow Cannabis in Portugal (as of 2023):

Company Name Company Description
Key Leaves Leading producer in South Africa with an advanced, fully indoor cultivation system for pharmaceutical-grade cannabis. Cultivates a standardized product independently of weather conditions.
Qanali Holds licenses for medical cannabis growth, import, and export. Operates indoor facilities capable of producing 300kg of EU GMP cannabis flowers monthly, positioning Europe for significant cannabis growth.
MHI Cultivo Medicinal An international pharmaceutical company with subsidiaries in Israel, Portugal, and a hub in Germany. Focuses on the research, development, and production of cannabis-based medications.
SMC Therapeutic Health Center Production Specialized in medical cannabis production with a strong focus on research and development. Utilizes innovative technology to enhance the cannabis industry.
RPK Biopharma Operates the largest outdoor cultivation area in the northern hemisphere spanning 650,000 m², offering low-cost cultivation land.
Terra Verde A subsidiary of Curaleaf International, Terra Verde is the pioneer in plant-based research, genetics, and production, delivering consistent, high-quality medicinal cannabis.
Tilray Portugal A global pharmaceutical company specializing in cannabis-based preparations for medicinal use. Operates a large production unit in Cantanhede, Portugal.
Sabores Púrpura Specializes in cultivating pesticide-free, naturally grown cannabis for pharmaceutical-grade preparations. Ensures safe products for patients.
Grovida A vertically integrated medical cannabis company that cultivates, processes, and manufactures medicines, collaborating with pharmaceutical customers.
Canna Forest Cultivates exceptional, 100% organic and ecological cannabis products on family lands with a tradition of chemical-free farming.
Agrivabe – Agricultural Production Produces 10 tons of EU-GMP dried cannabis flowers annually, maintaining strict quality and safety standards through extensive testing.
Cannexpor Pharma An EU-based group with an indoor pharmaceutical facility in Portugal, supplying premium cannabis products to pharmaceutical markets worldwide.
Cannprisma – Pharma Known for high-quality medical cannabis products, adhering to GACP cultivation standards and EU GMP certifications.
Sociedade Agrícola Monte das Barrocas Focused on ecological farming and tourism, dedicated to economic development in harmony with nature.
Symtomax Developing Europe's largest cultivation site, producing organic GMP-certified medical cannabis oil for the healthcare industry.
Agrovete Combines agricultural knowledge with the pharmaceutical industry, covering cultivation, extraction, production, and distribution of medicinal cannabis-based products.
Galaxiavertical A dedicated service provider offering products and technical support services to the medicinal cannabis cultivation sector.

Sale and Transport of Medical Cannabis

When it comes time to the sale and transfer harvested cannabis or finished medical cannabis products, there are specific procedures to be followed. The translations of these procedures leaves a lot of open questions, but it seems that Infarmed and local law enforcement both play a role in facilitating the sales and transfers of cannabis products. Overall, the Portuguese medical cannabis market is very strictly controlled and strongly regulated.

Growing Medical Cannabis in Portugal

How Does GrowerIQ Help LP’s Comply With GACP & GMP?

  • Digital recordkeeping is more reliable than paper
  • Batch numbering and batch status control
  • Seed-to-sale tracking of cannabis and accounting of weights and yields
  • Client tracking
  • Inventory control
  • Quality management software functions
  • Cultivation and monitoring software functions
  • ERP software functions

The laws and regulations set forth in “Decreto Regulamentar n.º 61/94, de 12 de outubro” are hefty and very detailed. Additionally, Infarmed requires cannabis cultivators, processors, and manufacturers to adhere to GACP and GMP guidelines. There are particularly rigorous requirements for recordkeeping and security that need to be met. GrowerIQ has contacts at Infarmed that have advocated for the use of GrowerIQ Seed-to-Sale Software to aid licensed cannabis producers in meeting GACP and GMP regulatory requirements.

Final Thoughts on Growing Cannabis in Portugal

Portugal is a great location for cannabis cultivation due to its natural climate that supports cannabis growth. However, while cannabis giants like Tilray are already operating in Portugal, there seems to be a long wait for licensing. The country is uniquely positioned to be a leading exporter of medical cannabis to other parts of Europe where cannabis does not grow well under natural conditions. Whether this hope will be realized is ultimately dependent on Infarmed and their willingness to license more cannabis cultivation based on demand for export. The international trade of cannabis is still very new so it could take years for trade agreements for cannabis to be standardized and for procedures and laws to be built and amended to facilitate such activity.

The fact that you found your way to this article is remarkable, we're sure that you're an ambitious grower. The oppourtunity in international trade does not end here. We have written guides on getting your cannabis license for more countries, such as Australia, Germany, New Zealand, and South Africa. Check out our guides over here: How to get your Medicinal Cannabis License in Australia, How to Get a Cannabis License in Germany, How to get a Cannabis License in New Zealand, and How to get a Cannabis License in South Africa.

Find Out More

GrowerIQ’s seed-to-sale software is a critical system to help you comply with medical marijuana cultivation in Portugal. Our experts can help you create a successful international cannabis venture and strive within any legal framework. To learn more, get in touch with our Cannabis professionals by completing the form below.


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