Around the World with Cannabis

What’s up with Portugal?

In previous months, The Green Solution® has taken a look at global cannabis culture, specifically the rules and regulations governing the herb in Uruguay and Japan. This month we’re turning our attention to Portugal, a country considered to have some of the most liberal drug laws in the world.

The drug policy of Portugal as it stands today was put into place in 2001, and it’s commonly called “decriminalization,” but that’s not quite true. The 2001 law actually upheld the illegality of use or possession of any drug, but the offense was changed from a criminal one to what largely amounts to a slap on the wrist for those caught with less than a ten-day supply of a particular drug. That, of course, begs the question: what constitutes a ten-day supply of cannabis? The Portuguese government has determined the answer to be 2.5 grams. If a person is found to be holding more than that, imprisonment and/or fines can be imposed.

Even so, cannabis cultivation is illegal, no matter what the amount being cultivated. Obviously, this constitutes a problem with the whole “decriminalization” experiment. If it’s illegal to sell or buy or even grow, consumers must by definition turn to the black market to purchase cannabis, thus creating a catch-22 situation for otherwise law-abiding citizens who simply want to consume an herb.

That is unless you’re a major corporation.

In 2014, Portugal’s National Drug Authority granted a license for a company called Terra Verde to grow cannabis legally within the country. 100% of that crop will be used to supply GW Pharmaceuticals, a multi-billion-dollar British biopharmaceutical firm. A good deal for Terra Verde and GW, but not so much for the average Portuguese citizen who just wants to grow a plant or two for themselves.

At TGS, we’re glad to have our home in Colorado, a state that strives to have fair and equitable cannabis laws for all its citizens.