A subtropical climate with long summers days, Portugal is ideal for growing plants that need plenty of sunlight. Many have even likened Portugal to California for its natural suitability to producing cannabis. Given the billion-dollar cannabis industry that exists in California, Portugal has taken steps to follow suit.

ONE SMALL STEP FOR PORTUGAL

Portugal's stance on drugs has been hard fought. 2001 saw the country decriminalise all drugs in an attempt to battle heroin addiction that was sweeping the nation. Since then, several cannabis plantations have been set up, exporting goods to other countries. Now, new legislation has been passed, voting hugely in favour of approving cannabis-based medicines.

For many European countries, this is not a new development. Germany and Italy have already approved the use of medicinal cannabis. Despite Portugal lagging behind, all that remains is for President Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa to sign the bill, after which the law will come into effect.

The bill was not without opposition, though. The centre-right popular party abstained their vote, although all other parties voted unanimously in favour—a clear sign of Portugal's changing attitude toward cannabis.

Portuguese Parliament

ANOTHER HUGE LEAP FOR THE CANNABIS INDUSTRY

The vote by Portugal's government is undoubtedly one to be celebrated among cannabis enthusiasts. Those looking to medicate with cannabis may have their desires answered. Many users praise the drug for aiding with symptoms of chronic pain, stress, anxiety and even battling depression. Despite this bill passing, public cannabis advocacy is still an ongoing battle in Portugal. Six months earlier, a provision aimed at allowing patients to grow and use cannabis for personal use passed a committee stage, but was left out of the recent vote to legalize cannabis-based medicines.

WHAT HAPPENS NEXT?

There will still be strict regulations in place to control the subsequent legislation. Medicinal marijuana will only be available through a doctor's prescription and sold in pharmacies. Finally, regulatory body “Infarmed” will have to license any cannabis-based medicines. They already oversee other medical and health products throughout the country.

There's no doubt that as the country starts to learn more about marijuana's benefits, further discussions and debate will be had regarding recreational marijuana legalization. Keep an eye on this space!

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