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Greece wants to get economy high on weed sales

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    The cultivation and sale of medical marijuana could help Greece’s government pull the country out of a seven-year economic crisis, according to Evangelos Apostolou, Greek Minister of Rural Development and Food.

    He told Bloomberg that favorable climate conditions and the possible medical legalization of cannabis have turned investor focus to Greece. Growers have expressed interest in pouring more than €1.5 billion ($1.74 billion) into projects to build greenhouse parks. The government estimates its share of the global market could be worth €200 billion in the next ten years.

    According to a task force preparing a draft bill to legalize medical marijuana in Greece, a single campus of 12 to 15 cannabis greenhouses could create 400 jobs. This is vital for the country with one of the highest levels of unemployment in the European Union – over 20 percent since November 2011.

    Apostolou said pot cultivation and sales will be for medical purposes only. “Thousands of Greek households with family members suffering from serious illnesses like cancer and Parkinson’s disease will be able to get drugs produced right here, under World Health Organization guidelines.”

    The Greek government plans to submit a bill covering medical legalization of cannabis by the end of the year, according to the task force, which is currently working on preparing the legislation. If passed, it will allow cultivation in time for a harvest next summer.

    The latest report from a cannabis market research firm Brightfield projected the global marijuana market to hit $31.4 billion by 2021. It is currently estimated to be worth $7.7 billion and will see a compound annual growth rate of 60 percent as some countries liberalize their marijuana laws. The US drives presently 90 percent of global cannabis sales, but its share will drop to 57 percent by 2021, said the report.

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