According to industry sources investments in plants for processing industrial hemp and pharmaceutical cannabis amounting to at least 255 million euros are currently in progress in Greece, with the facilities expected to go into operation by the end of 2019.
Speaking with ANA news agency, Cannatec Greece shareholder and general director Dionysis Sarmazanidis said that the investment may well end up being higher since the budget for some factories had yet to be finalised, while the estimated new jobs did not include the knock-on benefits for farmers.
Many Greek farmers are currently adopting a “wait-and-see” attitude to the cultivation of cannabis, he added, it would soon become clear that the recently-passed law allowing its cultivation would solve many problems currently facing farmers.
Sarmazanidis pointed out that use of industrial hemp has been recorded in more than 200 products, while Cannatec will start off with 70 products codes that will include foods, construction materials, and vehicle parts.
“We already have a business plan under which we will have paper made of Greek industrial hemp in three months. The quantity of paper produced by 1000 square metres of industrial hemp in a month is produced by 4,000 square metres of trees that need 40 years to grow. You appreciate that we will achieve a reduction in the cost of paper of at least 70%,” he noted.
The first processing plant will be based in Kilkis, on a five-hectare farm that has already been acquired, and is scheduled to be completed in April or May 2019, Sarmazanidis said. It will be built with a Greek-Israeli consortium able to supply the specialised machinery required, with an initial budget of 150 million euros and a business plan envisaging the investment of an additional 350 million over three years.
After Kilkis, another four consortiums operating under Golden Greece Holdings are planning further cannabis production investments in Polykastro (70 million euros), Lagada (15 million euros) and Veria (20 million euros) with plans for a further plant in Kavala were close to being finalised.