Welcome to an exciting exploration into the heart of North Macedonia’s thriving cannabis industry. This meticulously crafted feature will not only guide you through the nation’s cannabis industry, but also offer you an exclusive, comprehensive guide detailing the ins and outs of obtaining a license in this booming sector.
Table of Contents
1. Your Gateway to North Macedonia’s Green Revolution
2. Makkanabis: The Catalyst Changing North Macedonia’s Cannabis Landscape
3. Legal Challenges & Triumphs in the Cannabis Sector
4. Unlocking Opportunities: How to Secure a Cannabis Cultivation Permit in North Macedonia
This captivating narrative is a must-read for everyone – from potential investors scouting for new opportunities, to cannabis enthusiasts keen to understand the industry’s dynamic landscape, or anyone simply intrigued by North Macedonia’s green revolution.
We kick off with an exclusive guide that details every step and cost involved in obtaining a cannabis cultivation license. We then journey through the nation’s cannabis landscape, spotlight the role of MAKKANABIS, navigate the legal intricacies of this sector, and finally, arm you with a detailed checklist for securing a cannabis cultivation permit.
Join us on this illuminating journey, and discover how to get a cannabis cultivation license in North Macedonia.
Background on North Macedonia’s (cannabis) history
North Macedonia is the only country that got independence from Yugoslavia without shedding a single drop of blood. It remained entirely at peace in the heat of Yugoslav wars in the early 1990s and got independence from Yugoslavia in 1991. Since independence it has implemented a series of plans to generate income. This has included building large amounts of monuments and statues to attract tourists. Currently it includes entertaining cannabis influencer Big Mike and hosting NFL-players that are also cannabis investors – all under the lead of the Prime Minister. The state offers economic incentives and tax exemptions aimed at attracting foreign investors.
Home to little over two million people, North Macedonia legalised the cultivation and sale of cannabis-derived medical products in 2016, hoping to get the edge in a fast-growing European market. However, the law is unclear and has left the sector in limbo, with some businesses unable to sell on the international market.
More than 60 companies have been granted licenses by NMK’s Ministry of Health to grow cannabis, although at present it is still illegal to cultivate and use it recreationally. There is no complete list of licensed companies available, and the authorities have not been very successful in clarifying the licensing criteria. Additionally, a recent corruption case related to the former prime minister harmed not only the reputation of the North-Macedonian cannabis industry but also the countries legislative.
The government’s free market approach to cannabis cultivation, distribution and sale – mirroring Canada’s line – that has avoided setting up production under a state monopoly, has been an investment carrot. Adding to that cost-effective land, labour, electricity and water has made North Macedonia a prime location for a cannabis boom.
Working in a young industry where there is a lot of resistance to its acceptability, the process is not just centred around building a new industry, but also about building trust in that industry. This trust can only be built if those who work in the industry can be trusted – to do the right thing, to adhere to the rules, which can only be achieved by tracking every activity performed.
Makkanabis as enabler for the North Macedonian cannabis industry
The Association of Medical Cannabis Cultivators in North Macedonia (MAKKANABIS) was founded in 2020 with the goal of uniting North Macedonia’s medical cannabis industry to campaign for clear, fair policy and promote the industry as a key economic opportunity. According to them acquiring Good Manufacturing Practice (GMP) certificates is currently an issue. The EU countries do not recognise the GMP certificates issued by Macedonian authorities. Therefore, each of the licensed cannabis companies must enter into a GMP certification procedure with GMP auditors from abroad. This is a lengthy and costly process, which several cannabis cultivators are currently undergoing. The Covid-19 pandemic has led to additional delays. They are also lobbying for forming a separate agency for cannabis, which will act as a regulatory body for the cannabis industry, unlike the current situation, where they have several ministries and institutions which have authority over various different aspects of the cannabis industry.
In early 2022 Macedonian police seized about 1.5 tons of undeclared marijuana in one of the companies registered for producing medical marijuana in Strumica, a city in the southeast of the country, close to Bulgaria.
Interior Minister Oliver Spasovski said in a statement that the seized quantity had not been declared and was confiscated “due to irregularities in the operation of the legal entity”. Several companies with the license to grow marijuana are working in that part of the country.
In 2021 the Ministry of Interior, in collaboration with the American DEA, in Prilep, a city in the south, seized cannabis worth €800,000, and a police commander was arrested. In another case, two tons of marijuana were stolen from a warehouse in Valandovo, close to the border with Greece, which was later discovered in Aračinovo, near Skopje.
Recently the government has passed the law that allows that allows for the export of dried flowers.
North Macedonia: Permit for cannabis cultivation
The general law
The legal entity shall be obliged to meet the following conditions:
- To have provided adequate premises, areas or land for cultivating, drying and storing, equipped adequately for the manufacturing and processing capacity of the legal entity for the cultivation of cannabis
- The space to be protected with a fence of at least four meters in height, with razor wire in front of the fence coiled in three rows and barb wire above the fence
- To have provided 24 hours video surveillance over the entire space
- To have a 24-hour physical security
- To have employed at least four persons of whom at least one person to be a graduate pharmacist with a work experience of at least three years in the field of pharmacy and one agronomist – department of field crop production – with a work experience of at least three years in the area
The application for obtaining an approval for the cultivation of cannabis shall be submitted to the Ministry of Health.
Once you know this, you have three different laws for sowing, harvesting and the production of extracts.
Procedure for sowing/planting cannabis
The legal entity that has an approval for cannabis cultivation, before starting the sowing/planting, shall be obliged to submit an application to the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Water Economy for the purpose of obtaining an approval for sowing/planting of cannabis.
The legal entity, after the obtaining of the approval for cannabis sowing/planting, shall be obliged, prior to the start of the sowing/planting of the cannabis seeds, to inform the Ministry of Health, the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Water Economy, the Agency for Medicinal Products and Medical Devices.
Procedure for harvesting and drying hemp
The cannabis cultivator shall submit a report to the Ministry of Health, the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Water Economy and the Agency for Medicinal Products and Medical Devices about the completed process of cultivation and the obtained total dry weight, within three days as of the day of the completed process of cultivation.
Permit for production of hemp extracts
The legal entity submits a permit request with supporting documents to the AMMD (Agency for Medicines and Medical Devices), which makes a decision upon reviewing the request.
The AMMD is the official body that grants a permit for the export of border line products and medicines.
Officially, this is what is needed
- Proof that the legal entity is registered in the central register of the Republic of Northern Macedonia
- Proof of ownership of the space or land on which cannabis is grown, dried, cut and stored (property certificate) or a lease agreement or an agreement for state-owned agricultural land or privately owned agricultural land
- Proof of possession of own physical security, in accordance with the legal regulations or physical security agreement with a licensed space security company
- Proof of fulfilment of the condition for the required professional staff
- Plan for cannabis cultivation for medical and or scientific purposes
- Bank guarantee in the amount of 300,000 euros, in MKD counter value
- Statement that 20% of the net profit realised in the current year of the legal entity, will pay to the appropriate account of the budget of the Republic of North Macedonia
- Proof of paid administrative fee
Curious about the permits, procedures, and licensing fees for starting a cannabis operation in North Macedonia? Unlock the comprehensive guide here and gain access to valuable insights and expert recommendations!
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