Within the midst of presidency corruption, Macedonia is ready for the legislative go-ahead for the export of hashish flowers
The tiny, poor Balkan country of Northern Macedonia has been trying to find its way into the EU for more than 14 years. With just over two million inhabitants and legislation to lead a global medical cannabis market, North Macedonia is fighting corruption to prove that big things can come in very small packages.
In Macedonia, recreational cannabis is illegal. There are no laws on personal use or decriminalization. It cannot be bought, sold, grown, or legally used by individuals for recreational purposes. Prison sentences for violating cannabis laws can take up to 10 years.
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Medical cannabis in North Macedonia
In 2016, a North Macedonian health committee approved an amendment to the laws controlling psychotropic substances that allow the legal use of cannabis for medical purposes. Both government and opposition parties supported the change. Part of the reason the law was necessary was to make it so that people who already illegally used such products for self-medication could get better results with medical supervision.
The new laws allowed the sale of oils and extracts with 0.2% THC or less without a prescription, and those containing more than that amount require a prescription. By law, the only doctors who can write prescriptions for cannabis products are radiologists, oncologists, neurologists, and specialists in infectious diseases.
In order to get an idea of where North Macedonians themselves stood on the topic of legalization for medical purposes before this happened, a survey published by the agency M-Prosepekt last year showed that 70% of the respondents were in favor of legalization. This number increased by 20% compared to a similar survey from 2013.
Medical cannabis production in Northern Macedonia
North Macedonia not only opened the laws to give residents access to medical marijuana, but also the laws on the cultivation, production, and export of cannabis products.
Is European medical cannabis moving from flowers to oils?
By January of this year, over two dozen private companies have already received licenses for growing cannabis, and many more applications are in preparation. However, access to the Macedonian cannabis industry is not a cheap feat. Even without the cost of a license, investors should expect to pay between $ 750,000 and $ 1 million and need a registered unit in the country.
The licensing process is multi-stage. After the first approval is given when the growing conditions are met, a prospective grower, along with the residence requirements, must obtain another approval from the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Water Management to have the right to plant seeds.
Another interesting condition for the approval and growth process in North Macedonia is that each new company must hire at least four employees, one of whom is a pharmacist and an agricultural professional with a degree in agronomy.
Additional conditions for cultivation include safety precautions in the form of four-meter-high walls with surveillance cameras and actual security personnel to monitor the harvest. And so that all plants are grown in greenhouses or halls.
North Macedonia has a free market structure for its cannabis industry, which enables private companies to grow and sell their products.
North Macedonia has built its medical cannabis export industry in recent years, but according to the county’s laws, only extracts, oils, and tinctures can be exported, the combination of which accounts for approximately 30% of the available market. Smoky hemp flowers and CBD flowers make up the other 70% of the market, so Macedonia only appeals to a small part of it. To gain access to a larger number of buyers, Macedonia would also have to start exporting flowers.
The legal landscape of the CBD hemp flower in Europe
Fixing a little problem like this shouldn't be a problem, of course, should it? Especially when both leading political parties are on board. Just a simple change in current legislation, and – shit! – Hemp flowers can be exported abroad. And that was exactly what should have happened in 2018 when it was determined how much sales would be lost if this market was not taken into account. In anticipation of this change in law in 2018, new licenses were issued as more foreign investors showed interest and were waiting for the legal update and the opportunity to sell flowers with a low THC content abroad. However, it never happened. Because what's one of the best ways to prevent anything useful in government? Corruption!
Cannabis corruption in Macedonia?
The root of the problem lies in the former prime minister himself, Zoran Zaev, who was a great force in building a medical cannabis industry in North Macedonia and said, "Let me tell you, this country has great potential and I & # 39; I am very happy to make Macedonia one of the first cannabis superpowers in Europe. "
The problem is that opposition party members claimed that Zaev showed a great deal of preference in licensing, which gave particular preference to some companies run by his own family members, and that the new laws amending the existing laws to to allow drying out was a special preference. The cannabis flowers to be sold should help them specifically. Given these and some other concerns, changes to the Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act were removed from the immediate agenda at the end of last year until changes could be made.
In addition to Zaev's actions, there have been general concerns from non-governmental organizations that want more context regarding licensing, drug manufacturing, and new drug regulation. These organizations have problems with the government's sole control over who receives the license (without external input), a bank guarantee of € 500,000 is required, and fears that these reforms will push smaller players out of the market.
This would not be the first time in history that contracts have been awarded and laws have been manipulated based on illegal, independent measures by politicians and business people. These measures are generally not positively received by those who do not receive the benefit, and while Zaev rejected these claims, the problem helped to freeze further discussion about the inclusion of hemp flowers as exportable products.
Zaev is no longer a prime minister. If the corona pandemic subsides, problems like these that have been pushed into the background will reappear. The draft law is currently at the Ministry of Health and will be reintroduced into the legislative process after appropriate revisions. If Zaev fails, it should make sailing more smooth once the government is called up again on the matter. Macedonians and investors are all holding their breath and waiting for several companies to rely on this change in the law in the factories already set up.
Are smokable hemp flowers banned in your state?
Macedonia is a country that is ready to take full action. After investors start exporting cannabis oils and extracts, they are awaiting final approval in the form of a legislative change so they can start exporting cannabis flowers. Perhaps the burgeoning medical cannabis industry in Macedonia will give the final boost it takes to officially enter the EU, but last but not least, selling flowers could increase overall revenue and give the country's economy a much-needed cash injection.
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