Portugal has always been one of the leading countries in Europe when it comes to drug policy. On 15 July 2018, the Portuguese parliament approved cannabis for therapeutic use. The country represents a good place to start a medical cannabis operation, because of the good regulatory framework and because of the low production cost. These are just two of the reasons why David Ferreira and Josh decided to kick off their medical cannabis project in Portugal. “On top of that, I am Portuguese myself, and therefore I wanted to bring value to the country and specifically to the community where our operation is,” David explains. “We have a manufacturing license, and an import/export license,” Josh points out.
Setting up in Portugal
One of the most important things within the medical cannabis sector is to produce product with consistency. And indeed, David and Josh say that this is the main thing they have been taking into consideration. “It is crucial to control all the variables,” David says. “Since the beginning, we have been carrying out the design of the facility and of the SOPs from a GMP standpoint. This also because we plan to export to Germany, the standards of which are the strictest, and thus the best when it comes to producing clean and safe products.” The facility that the company is setting up has a GMP-GACP certified design, with a special focus on the sanitation aspect. “The facility is extremely compartmentalized,” says David. “From the vault to the grow rooms: everything is well separated. In order to enter each of these parts of the building, people need to go through sanitization processes, or they are not even allowed to get in there. For instance, our guards are not allowed in the grow rooms.”
David and Josh at the Cannabis Capital Convention, Amsterdam
The importance of efficiency
According to both David and Josh, one of the most challenging aspects of setting up a medical cannabis indoor facility is to keep the efficiency high and providing consistent quality products while lowering the cost. “The electricity bill surely is something,” David points out. “It is important to plan everything in the most meticulous way possible, having efficiency as the spearhead of such an approach. This is exactly the reason why we are going to use an LED lighting system. Studies have shown that LED is a more efficient and better way of lighting than HPS: not only are the operational costs lower, but adjustable spectrum LEDs allow plants to grow better as if they would be receiving actual sunlight.”
However, these are just two of the reasons why David and Josh opted for LED. “We have been planning to scale up our operation, already,” says Josh. “It is easier to scale up if one is using LED, compared to HPS. Additionally, as soon as we will start the scaling up, we are going to grow vertically. Because, again, this is what brings the most efficiency, in our case.” On top of that, Josh points out that “The important aspect is that we want to create solid partnerships with our wholesalers in Germany creating a quality brand and add an extraction company and license to our portfolio.”
Support from the community
Both David and Josh point out that they have received a very warm support from the local community, and especially from the mayor, Paulo Fernandes. “Portugal is one of the best places to grow medical cannabis,” they say. “The support from the public is real, and on top of that, the low operational cost plus a particularly suitable water supply are just a few of the things that make this country special.” Josh mentioned that the support of the local government is great and valuable to them and created a partnership with a Bio Technology center in the neighborhood and the university to continue Research and Development activities.
FunCrops is also looking for potential partners to further fund their projects. “We want to bring value to our region, and to the medical cannabis sector,” Josh points out. “We have the possibility to create something beautiful that can potentially help many people. We think we are in a great position to offer to the industry and to patients something truly unique.”
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