Greek Ministries Propose Cannabis Cultivation Bill

On Wednesday, representatives from the Ministries of Health, Rural Development, Economy and Development, and Justice presented a draft bill on the cultivation and administration of medical-grade cannabis in Greece. The bill allows for the cultivation of cannabis for the purpose of processing raw materials into finished medicinal products and sets parameters for proper disposal.

The draft law was presented last Wednesday and submitted to the Greek Parliament the next day. The proposed language was the result of an effort lead by associate Professor of Pharmacology and EOF President Katerina Antoniou, who lead a Ministry of Health working group last year.

According to Health Minister Andreas Xanthos, the legislation will regulate ”the production, control and disposal of pharmaceutical products containing cannabis in order to promote productive investments in this field and to generate developmental benefits for the economy and the state.”

Xanthos stressed that cannabis would be disposed through state pharmacies and enable patients in Greece to receive medical cannabis with a doctor‘s prescription. The ministry is also considering a registry of patients for the collection of necessary medical data.

Cannabis can add new jobs, stimulate economy

The Minister for Rural Development, Vangelis Apostolou, said that through the investments made in this area, jobs will be created to fight unemployment. Apostolou also mentioned comparative advantages Greece has over other countries. In Greece, climatic conditions, as well as high-intensity sunshine, are considered ideal for cannabis cultivation.

Last year, evaluated the viability of a cannabis production in Greece. With 300 days of sun, the Mediterranean climate would make this type of cultivation a highly cost-effective endeavor.

Dimitris Papadimitriou, Minister for Economy and Development and Justice, estimated strategic investments in the country’s cannabis industry could generate $1.5 billion in economic activity following meetings with investors from Germany and Canada. The Canadian business plan includes adding roughly 2,000 new jobs and a final investment amount of 750 million Euros. Papadimitriou added these strategic investments will be subject to the passage of a separate strategic investment bill.

Prohibition Pioneers

Greek residents experienced prohibition before most other countries. During the 19th century, cannabis use was widespread among Orthodox Greeks who escaped from the Ottoman Empire to the newly established Greece. Due to the “direct threat it posed to society,” cannabis was banned as early as 1890 — almost a quarter-century before the plant’s first international ostracism during the Geneva Opium Conference.

French adventurer and author Henry de Monfreid noted in his 1933 book Hashish: A Smuggler’s Tale that in 1915, hashish was still the top crop on Greece’s Peloponnese peninsula. Each farm maintained its own hash varieties, just as wineries crafted their own wines.

In 1932, French journalist Francis Carco (1886-1958) wrote a travel report on prostitution and drugs in the Mediterranean region for “Voila” magazine.

Now, 86 years later, the war appears to be coming to an end.

“I was with a police officer, and we walked along the cades of Piraeus on a dark blue evening, when I suddenly had the idea of visiting a Hashish café,” Carco wrote. “I had been told that Hashish cafés are widespread in Greece. I even had some addresses. My companion smiled. ‘You know,’ he said, the cafés you mention are now closed. We are leading a merciless war.’”


Photo by Evangelos Methenitis

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