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Cannabis in Andorra: CBD and marijuana crops

Why is Andorra filling up with CBD shops? Is Andorra a country hostile to the cannabis industry? What is Andorra's position regarding marijuana? In this article we will try to answer these questions.

What is CBD?

Cannabidiol or CBD is one of the 113 cannabinoids found in the cannabis or marijuana plant. This substance does not contain tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the psychoactive ingredient found in marijuana and that produces a high, in fact CBD seems to moderate the euphoric effect of THC, which is an isomer of cannabidiol. However, some research suggests that CBD can increase alertness.

CBD has been growing in popularity in recent years as research has been done on the substance. First shown to be effective antiepileptic use, cannabidiol is now being studied as a treatment for a wide range of conditionsincluding Parkinson's disease, schizophrenia, diabetes, multiple sclerosis, and anxiety, although research supporting the drug's benefits is still limited.

The World Health Organization has certified that CBD has no risk or is harmful to health. In fact, many athletes use it to reduce anxiety before a competition, as an anti-inflammatory for pain or after exercise, and it helps regulate oily skin. Some studies suggest that we only know a 20% of all the benefits that cannabis can have.

In any case, it is a visible fact that the Principality of Andorra increasingly offers more products with CBD. Not only are there more and more shops specializing in it, but the pharmacies themselves are marketing the products. Why and how has this situation occurred?

CBD in Andorra: a legal loophole

The Court of Justice of the European Union endorsed in November 2020 the marketing in France of cannabidiol imported from the Czech Republic, considering that prohibiting it would violate the rules on the free movement of goods and concluded that this marijuana asset is not a drug. It ruled that a country cannot prohibit the commercialization of cannabidiol legally produced in another member state.

This fact is what they have taken advantage of all establishments in Andorra to market CBD products for topical use, which is the only one currently approved by the European Union. For this they use the since there is no legislation regarding this substance in the country, it is in a kind of legal vacuum. They also take advantage of draw the attention of the government in defense of marijuana, promulgating that it is a safe substance with very varied and beneficial uses and with a very large potential demand.

In Andorra, cannabidiol (CBD) can only be marketed for cosmetic use. Products with CBD must be approved by the European Union and manufactured outside the country, although there is no law in the Principality. That is why it is protected by European regulations that allow the sale of cannabidiol for topical use, although in countries such as Canada the medicinal use of CBD is allowed.

What the specialized premises do, in fact, is register the stores as a perfumery and cosmetics establishment, because the Andorran law is not precise regarding CBD products, and the presence of this industry in the country is limited to the sale of ointments and essential oils for topical use, without allowing them to be marketed as a food or medicinal supplement. Thus, CBD opens up space in the Andorran market, although for now there is no law that regulates its commercialization.

In the stores they have brands from all over Europe and one day they would like to have their own, but it seems that Without the possibility of allocating Andorran cannabis crops for medicinal use, investors interested in betting on this business are not willing to go ahead with the project.

The Government of Andorra studies cannabis

Despite everything, wake-up call paid off, and in June 2021 the Andorran government confirmed that it would study the cultivation of medicinal cannabis through Andorra Research and Innovation and the Institute of Agrifood Research and Technology (IRTA). The study commissioned by the Government on the cultivation of cannabis in the country determined that the best way to start would be through the production of cosmetics, with the aim of gaining experience and assessing the economic viability of the project.

They would be nationally produced cosmetics. The national production of hemp would also open the way to the sale of the flower that contains CBD, a highly valued product that is currently impossible to import, since customs agents have no way of checking whether that cannabis flower contains THC and therefore eIt's a drug.

However, the Government's conclusions on the IRTA report were not satisfactory for businessmen. The slowness of the government in terms of study, analysis, regulation and legislation of the substance is also holding back the investment ambition. The lack of a clear timetable and the first steps that have been taken to promote the cultivation of cannabis in the country have put a brake on the interest of private investors in the project.

Investors do not see it clearly

In this sense, in addition to the problem that there is no timing to promote the legal framework that covers the new crop and that it is expected that it will not be carried out in this legislature, it is criticized that there is a bet to start cultivation with CBD for cosmetic use or wellness products when "the market is not going this way". For all these reasons, from the environment that has been trying to promote this new sector in the country for years, there is talk of disappointment and of the clear possibility that the investment ends up going to a better destination.

Although the IRTA report itself concludes that where there are possibilities is in cultivation focused on medicinal use due to the clear expansion that it is experiencing, the experts hired by the Government advocate in a first phase starting with cosmetic CBD to acquire technical experience and assess the economic viability, as well as test the social reaction, safety and control of the crop and check the response of potential investors.

For those who have spent years working on the possibility of the Principality carving out a niche for itself in this new economic sector, it is about a "very big mistake" that, in addition, is planned to be developed for a couple of years to gain experience, which would mean an added delay. To exemplify that the time to bet on cannabis for medicinal use is now, they point out that Pfizer has just acquired a company that works on the development of medicines derived from cannabis substances, highlighting the new path that the pharmaceutical industry is taking.

In short, businessmen and those who want invest in Andorra they believe that the proposed model has too much public intervention and that the study has not made great contributions and it has further delayed the start of an initiative that was publicly announced a couple of years ago. They regret that a new opportunity for economic diversification may have been lost.

Advice is awarded to draft legislation

Andorra's commitment to cannabis is frameable according to the Andorran Government under the Horizonte23 plan to get out of the crisis caused by covid-19. In April 2022 The Government has awarded the advisory services for the drafting of the draft Law for the cultivation of cannabis to the Roca Junyent law firm through the Council of Ministers.

The purpose of the Government is that the drafting of the legal text must be drawn up transversally and in cooperation with those possibly involved. The main tasks of the successful bidder will consist of the study of the regulations and the specific background, the drafting of the requested documents and their delivery, as well as the review of the documents in meetings organized for this purpose, both internally and with the private sectors, and the preparation of the final texts.

Further, the model must provide for the direct or indirect participation of the Andorran livestock sector to promote its diversification, which is logical and understandable. Not so much their way of acting excessively conservative and with lead feet that they have been showing up to now. We'll see how the game turns out for them.

Could marijuana be legalized in Andorra?

It should be noted from the beginning: There is no talk at any time of legalizing marijuana in Andorra. What it is about is cultivating cannabis destined for sale as a raw material to make medicinal products with it, whether CBD or other compounds, as well as having companies destined to make cosmetic and medicinal products with said crops.

In Andorra, the trafficking, possession and consumption of any type of drug are legally penalized. The possession of, for example, hashish at the customs office at the entrance to the country or during the stay at any time within Andorra, even if it is a tiny amount and for personal consumption, could mean:

  • Detention (between 24/48 hours).
  • Drug requirement.
  • Economic fine (around €1,000 or €2,000, depending on the circumstances) and possible expulsion from the Principality (temporary, or unlimited time).

These consequences being the mildest. From here, depending on the drug possessed and the amounts in possession, it could even reach the harshest prison sentences.

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Cannabis in Andorra: CBD and marijuana crops

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Andorra Insiders is an information platform about Andorra managed by Abast Global, an Andorran professional consultancy firm for legal, tax and accounting services specializing in the establishment of people and businesses in the Principality of Andorra. More information here.

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