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Dr. Miguel Nobrega Gouveia, Master Med Cannabis:

Portugal: “We hope the association creates more transparency among cannabis growers”

Soon, the construction of a new medical cannabis facility in Portugal will be finished. After receiving their pre-license at the start of 2021, things have been moving slower than anticipated for Master Med Cannabis. And this was not just due to the pandemic and supply chain issues. “The process to become a licensed grower in Portugal is long and slow, as the regulator is very busy,” says Dr. Miguel Nobrega Gouveia, CEO of Master Med Cannabis. Discussing concerns or ideas with other growers in the country has not been very fruitful either. “Many growers want to keep things to themselves, believing they are the best and don’t need any help.” Therefore, on top of being busy with their new cultivation project, the company is working on creating an association. “Having one communication channel with the regulator would be very beneficial for our industry. Moreover, it would be great to have growers share ideas with each other for everyone’s benefit, creating more transparency."

The project
According to Miguel, the facility will span 60,000 square meters, which includes both greenhouses and indoor grow rooms. “We are trying to keep the project as organic and sustainable as possible. For example, we’ll have 20,000 square meters of solar panels, as well as a very economical watering system that uses water from our own wells.” The company is expecting to have its Infarmed inspection before September this year. Along the way, they’ve had many hurdles to cross. “The pandemic resulted in a major delay for us, and then the supply chain was disrupted, and construction costs are still astonishingly high. Even to this day, there are new challenges presented to us basically every week. It is very noticeable that the cannabis market is new in Portugal. Things are not as efficient yet as they could be. But we continue to move forward.” At the moment, a large part of the construction is finished. “The indoor facility and greenhouses are ready, the dry room is halfway done, and we are working on an extra indoor facility.”

Communication and transparency
The delays and communication challenges with the Portuguese regulator are some of the major challenges the company has run into. “The majority of cultivators here are having the issue that the regulator is very busy. Inspections get delayed and it takes a long time to get a response to any questions.” Miguel believes that an association would be the way forward. “We’re creating an association, so that we can grow a bit stronger in regards to having one communication channel with the regulator.” Unfortunately, it has not been as plain sailing as Miguel would have hoped. “A lot of the cultivators don’t want to collaborate because they don’t think they need any help. That has been a challenge for us. Luckily, we already have 5 companies on board, and we are hoping to get to 10.”

The aim of the association is also to create more transparency among the Portuguese growers. “It would be great if this would create a situation where growers can meet on a regular basis to exchange ideas. We see now that many growers don’t want to talk to other growers, which is a shame. It would be very beneficial to exchange ideas with each other. Perhaps together, growers can work on improving a watering system or saving energy. We would welcome more cooperation and transparency in the industry, to benefit everyone,” Miguel concludes.

For more information:
Master Med Cannabis