Insider Business Medical cannabis: call for expression of interest process stalls

Medical cannabis: call for expression of interest process stalls

A much-awaited Health Ministry call for  expression of interest in cultivating and producing medical cannabis in Cyprus appears to have stalled, according to informed sources.

One told Phileleftheros that both the Auditor General’s Office and the Treasury believe state revenue will be too low and have called on the Ministry to review the relevant fees.

Both believe that even though private companies will be making millions every year the state can expect estimated revenue of just around €30,000.

As things stand today, obtaining a cannabis production licence amounts to €500,000 while its annual renewal is  €30,000.

The Treasury was the first to underline that, based on a techno-economic study drafted before the bill was approved, profit margins of selected bidders would be huge, estimated at tens of millions annually. Thus, the set fee of €30,000 is insufficient.

Both state institutions requested a re-examination of the matter before the tender is called so that fees are revised. And both have proposed the amendment of state regulations so that revenue is calculated as a percentage of corporate income. The Audit Office also proposed a public consultation on preliminary draft criteria.

After the competition is announced officially, stakeholders will have no more than three months to submit applications and all procedures required by law will immediately follow. The whole process is expected to be completed by end of the first half of 2020.

Insiders also said that interest by investors is huge and informally expressed by medical cannabis growers active in the US, Canada, Russia, Israel and other countries.

Investing in pharmaceutical cannabis is not at all simple, with safety protocols included being exceptionally strict, one also said.

And gave as an example the recently-approved bill’s provision that an applicant must have at least five years of practical experience in the cultivation and production of cannabis.

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