>> Portugal could become Europe's hub for medical marijuana. This year Canadian cannabis giant Tilray will begin serving its European patients from a new plantation outside Lisbon. Germany is their number one customer, but the head of the company estimates the EU's potential market at up to 40 billion euros a year serving ten million patients.
I'm Reuters Emily Wither in Lisbon. Now it may seem strange to open a $20 million cannabis farm in a country that currently prohibits medicinal use of the plant. Portugal led the way over 15 years ago when it decriminalized the possession of all drugs. That of course includes marijuana.
But some parties here say they now want to see it legalized for recreational and therapeutic purposes. The country's influential doctor's association is calling for the legalization of marijuana based medicines. While parliament has began debating a draft bill that goes even further in seeking to allow patients to grow pot at home.
Portugal may boast one of the world's most liberal policies on drugs, but it's trailed several EU countries such as Italy and Germany when it comes to medical marijuana. Portugal may export it, but its patients can't buy it. Tilray's marijuana farm will also serve as a hub supporting research and development efforts across Europe, one element the CEO Brendan Kennedy is most excited about.
>> One of the most surprising things about research in this industry is that it's across such a wide spectrum of diseases. From pediatric epilepsy to chemotherapy induced nausea to PTSD, COPD, Alzheimer's. And then obviously a number of patients consume our product in Canada for chronic pain and glaucoma.
>> He believes in the next decade medical marijuana use will be widespread and stigma free. Portugal's climate is often compared to that of California, making it an ideal place to grow the plant.