Committee Macedonia legalized medical cannabis in February 2016, after the Macedonian Parliament Health approved amendments to its Law on Control of Opioid Drugs and Psychotropic Substances.
And starting June 2016, patients – even without a prescription – were allowed to purchase cannabis oil containing up to 0.2 per cent of cannabinoids. Those who need more concentrated forms of THC or CBD require doctor’s prescription.
The new legislation also covers the cultivation of cannabis by legal growers, who will then supply the plant to medical cannabis manufacturers.
Because of this legislative reform, Macedonia became one of the few countries in the world that has the legal right to cultivate and export medical cannabis.
Cannabis has been cultivated and used in the Republic of Macedonia since the days of ancient Greece. But even with this fact, cannabis laws in the country were greatly repressive for many years.
According to Drug Reporter, the change in legislation in 2016 came as a surprise to many, especially considering that the right-wing government has exhibited intolerance towards marginalized prohibited substances. Moreover, the adoption of the new law was said to lack transparency and was drafted without any input from the citizens.
And while there were a couple of debates that were organized to tackle the issue of cannabis legalization, the draft law was reportedly never presented. Representatives from civil groups working on the issue were also not invited to give their input.
Drug Reporter further noted that once it was issued, the draft law started to move through the Parliament, which prevented any appropriate discussion or analysis.
Prime Minister is optimistic
More than a year after medical cannabis was legalized in the country and it seems like things are looking up. It appears that the Macedonian government has its eyes set on European expansion all along.
Social Democrat Prime Minister Zoran Zaev said he is convinced that by the end of May 2018, they will have hard currency income from the export of dried cannabis flowers, which will be processed into oil. He said that they are expecting €100 million to come in from medical cannabis production.
According to Zaev, the government has already granted eight licenses to cannabis oil producers and is in the process of granting four to five more. He also admitted in the parliament that a family member has entered the cannabis business and acquired a greenhouse from the Mam company to use for growing cannabis.
Zaev said he expects more investments to pour in for this sector. He also expects the country to export dried cannabis for cannabis oil production in Germany and Poland.
Zaev is now urging people who have the resources to invest in the cannabis industry as it has a lot of potential to be profitable.
Growing competition in the cannabis market
Macedonia’s cannabis market employs a system that many liken to that of the Canadian model, which is an open system that allows legal private companies to cultivate and export cannabis products. Macedonia’s free market approach is making it hot property and stock is selling quick.
Competition in terms of medical cannabis production in Macedonia is rapidly increasing as new companies are showing an interest in being a part of the high-potential market. And we are not just talking about local companies. Even foreign-owned cannabis companies want to join in.
American, Slovenian and Bulgarian firms have already tested the waters in Macedonia, producing high-quality CBD products for export. Many Canadian companies also looked to feed Macedonia’s promising medical market, only for the state to swat them off in 2016.
The country has little to zero interest in imports as they believe that they have the legal framework and the facilities to become a cannabis heavyweight in Europe’s cannabis scene.
Now, only time will tell if it can.