In Portugal all drugs are decriminalized. Users cannot be persecuted for having drugs in their personal possession. Users showing signs of problematic use (say someone shooting heroine out on the streets, passing out, etc), have to appear before a tribunal consisting of a lawyer, doctor, and social worker. Other nations are now studying how Portugal dealt with the drug epidemics, as Portugal now has the lowest overdose rate in Europe. Decriminalization ends the marginalization associated with use and allows problem users to get help. It stops the stigmatization of those who are using but are not problem users. And it allows law enforcement to focus on actual problems and public safety as opposed to wasting taxpayer resources in painting all users with a very broad brush. The entire nation became a big laboratory for testing out harm reduction, and for ending the war on drugs. Of course with decriminalization cannabis legalization has arrived. While Portugal has a number of cannabis clubs where one may purchase recreational cannabis, a number of interesting developments are occurring on the medical marijuana front.
Medical marijuana has been made officially legal as of February, 2019. Sativex a cannabis derived medication prescribed for various involuntary muscle contractions is already available in pharmacies in Portugal. Other cannabis drugs are in development. The fact that one can use the public healthcare system to purchase cannabis is extremely important, as it directly supports research into the creation of other cannabis derived drugs to treat a variety of medical conditions. The creation and production of new cannabis medicines creates jobs, and taxes are paid on these products.
There’s also a large export market. Portugal is in Southern Europe and cannabis plants can be grown year round in the South of Europe. This provides substantial opportunity to export to nations with colder climates such as Northern EU nations and Canada, and already this is happening. Exporting medical cannabis products brings in a lot of new revenues to Portugal, and can further develop the overall economy. The Portuguese government has sought foreign investment post 2008 economic crisis and this is certainly away to bring in investors.
The three Canadian companies licensed to provide medical marijuana to Germany are sourcing at least some of their marijuana from Portugal. As a fellow EU nation, importing cannabis from Portugal to German means that the companies involved don’t have to deal with customs so fees and taxes are cheaper. Portugal is also closer than say Colombia, so money is saved on shipping as well. A number of jobs have already been generated on farms, at greenhouses, and at various shipping facilities. Exports are expected to considerably grow in 2020. Legalization of cannabis for medical purposes has also lead to increased investment for hemp, as hemp is merely low THC cannabis. As for hemp production, 2019 had a jurisdictional battle that led to the delaying of hemp licenses and litigation. It was a lost year for hemp farmers, but as soon as the licensing jurisdiction of Portuguese government agencies is resolved the future sounds bright for hemp and cannabis production.