Portugal’s plan to legalize recreational cannabis is on hold after the current government administration dissolved, forcing a snap election in January 2022 and postponing cannabis legalization reform.
After the election this January, the legislation will have to be re-introduced by the new government.
Earlier this year, two parties, the Left Bloc and the Liberal Initiative, introduced a bill to the Health Commission for debate to formally legalize personal use of cannabis. Requests for discussions on the bill were postponed and will no longer be held at this time.
It appears unlikely that a new Portuguese governing body would oppose cannabis legalization, but it is possible. There is a national vested interest in developing the marijuana business sector. But the delays and difficulties with the licensing process on the medical side might not bode well for marijuana’s future.
There have been multiple attempts to reform Portugal’s drug policy since the 1970s. The medical cultivation sector has taken off since 2017, but cannabis is still not technically legal.
António Costa, Portugal’s prime minister, assembled a governing arrangement in 2015 that was dubbed the geringonça (often translated as “contraption”), which proved unexpectedly stable.
His latest budget proposal included free kindergarten, increasing the minimum wage, tax cuts, and increased public investment. Still, it did not garner the necessary votes from his allies on the left (Portuguese Communist Party and the Left Bloc).
Costa then threatened to call for elections if parliament didn’t pass his budget. They called his bluff.
Portugal played a more prominent role in the European cannabis discussion when Tilray began constructing a cannabis facility there. After Holland, Portugal has the second-most regulated cultivation facilities in the EU. Unlike the Dutch, their facilities are all internationally regulated.
The future of the EU cannabis market is geared toward extraction for export – primarily to the German medical marijuana market. Portugal’s low production and labor costs put them on par with Greece and evolving African cannabis cultivation economies in terms of price per gram for flower and extracts.
Despite other EU countries, like Luxembourg, slowing their pursuit of cannabis reform, legalizing marijuana could provide the economic stimulus needed for countries still reeling from the effects of the COVID lockdown.
A recreational market in Portugal would positively affect the national economy and the tourist sector and could even impact the entire industry across the continent. People will be able to purchase their favorite cannabis strains for consumption via glass pipes.