Medical cannabis breaks records in Portugal: Prescription packages soar 25% and almost 12 tons exported in one year


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2023 was a landmark year for the medicinal cannabis sector in Portugal, with notable growth on several fronts, according to a report by Infarmed, the National Authority for Medicines and Health Products.

For the first time, the number of prescriptions for medicinal cannabis in Portugal has surpassed the 1,000 units per year mark, indicating an increase of around 25% over the previous year, according to figures released by Jornal de Notícias. In 2022, 929 packages were prescribed, a figure that grew to over a thousand in 2023. This increase reflects the growing acceptance and adoption of medical cannabis as a therapeutic option by health professionals and patients in Portugal.

Portugal has consolidated its position as one of the main global exporters of cannabis. Exports reached almost 12,000 kilograms in 2023, a significant increase of almost 30% compared to the 9,271 kilograms exported in 2022. Since the first authorization for cultivation in 2017, Portugal has exported more than 32,000 kilograms of cannabis.

Despite robust growth in 2023, the pace was more moderate compared to the period between 2021 and 2022. During this interval, exports grew by an impressive 62%, while prescriptions for medical cannabis increased by more than 50%. Even so, the figures for 2023 show a robust and constantly evolving sector.

Two new countries, Poland and Australia, emerged as important importers of cannabis grown and/or manufactured in Portugal in 2023, taking second and fourth place respectively. Germany maintained its position as the main importer, highlighting the diversification and expansion of markets for Portuguese cannabis products.

The increase in exports is mainly attributable to the growth in production by plantations already authorized in Portugal. In addition, the number of companies operating in the medical cannabis sector in Portugal is on the rise. In just one year, the country has seen a significant increase from 20 to 29 authorized plantations.

With regard to manufacturing, which involves transforming the plant into marketable products, Portugal also saw substantial growth, with the number of authorized companies increasing from 9 to 19. In contrast, the wholesale distribution sector saw a slight drop, from 12 to 9 authorized companies.

The outlook for 2024 is optimistic, with expectations of continued growth in the number of authorized companies and the diversification of products and markets. At the end of 2023, 104 companies were in the second phase of the process, awaiting final authorization for import and export, depending on the necessary checks and documents.

Infarmed is currently evaluating ten marketing authorization applications (MAAs) for new cannabis-based substances and preparations. In 2024, the institution is expected to make decisions on these pending cases, which could result in a greater variety of medicinal cannabis products available to patients in Portugal.

Hervé Hubert
Hervé Hubert
Hervé Hubert is a 55-year-old writer and journalist based in Porto, Portugal. Born in France, he brings a unique blend of French and Portuguese perspectives to his work. Education Hervé studied Journalism and Literature at the University of Lyon in France. After completing his studies, he gained valuable experience working with various French media outlets (Portugal France also). Career He worked for several years as a journalist in France before making the move to Portugal. In Porto, he joined the Portugal Pulse team as a staff writer. Skills Hervé specializes in storytelling, investigative journalism, and cultural commentary. He has a flair for capturing complex issues in a relatable way. Personal Life He currently resides in Porto and enjoys the city's rich culture, from Fado music to Francesinha cuisine. Hervé continues to maintain strong ties to his French heritage, often traveling back to France for family visits and cultural exploration. With his unique background and diverse skill set, Hervé Hubert adds a layered, multicultural lens to every story he covers.

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