Greece issues first medical cannabis licenses

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Greece on Monday issued its first licenses for the cultivation and processing of medical cannabis in a taboo-breaking move, the agriculture ministry said Monday.

The licenses went to two companies, Biomecann and Bioprocann, respectively based in Larissa and Corinth, who are expected to invest a combined 22 million euros ($25 million) and hire over 100 people.

"It's a greenhouse cultivation expected to create many jobs," junior agriculture minister Vassilis Kokkalis said in a statement jointly released with the ministries of health and development.

The licenses have a five-year duration and are revised annually. A law permitting the production of medical cannabis was passed earlier this year by Greece's leftist-led government.

Another 12 investment proposals worth 185 million euros are awaiting approval, junior development minister Stergios Pitsiorlas said.

The government last year authorised the import of several products based on medical marijuana, as well as hemp cultivation for industrial purposes.

Hemp can be used to make construction materials, paper, textiles and food. Over a dozen EU countries have authorised the use of medical. Greece had grown and exported cannabis before its possession was banned in 1936.

Last month, Canada became the world's first major economy to fully legalise cannabis, making good on a 2015 campaign promise by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.

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