Lisbon, Portugal — The Portuguese Medicines Agency (Infarmed) has made the decision to revoke the authorizations previously granted to Clever Leaves Portugal for activities involving the cultivation, manufacturing, import, and export of medical cannabis. This move follows the Colombian multinational's strategic restructuring, which saw the closure of all its operations in Portugal earlier this year.
The decision to withdraw these authorizations aligns with Clever Leaves' announcement made in January, where the company declared its intention to cease all operations in Portugal. As part of this shift, the company indicated it would be scaling down agricultural production in Portugal and focusing exclusively on cultivating its flower varieties within Colombian greenhouses, commencing from the second quarter of 2023.
Clever Leaves had established a significant presence in Portugal, including an 84-hectare property in São Teotónio and 10,000 square meters of greenhouse cultivation. Additionally, the company inaugurated a processing unit in the BlueBiz business park in the Setúbal Peninsula in 2021. The decision to exit Portugal is estimated to have saved Clever Leaves approximately €7 million in costs for the year 2023.
Clever Leaves CEO Andres Fajardo emphasized that the choice to withdraw from Portugal was a challenging one but ultimately served the best interests of the company. He cited the favorable conditions in Colombia, such as low labor costs and an ideal agricultural climate, as key competitive advantages.
The company's exit from its Portuguese operation incurred a cost ranging between $19 and $21 million, as reported by the Colombian group. These expenses included severance pay and wages for employees, the removal and abandonment of equipment, and the early exit from properties, as well as unsold inventories.
According to data provided by Infarmed, the end of the first half of this year witnessed the issuance of 76 final authorizations across four categories in the cannabis business: cultivation, import/export, manufacturing, and wholesale distribution. Portugal experienced a 63% year-on-year surge in cannabis exports in 2022, reaching a total of around ten tons. The main buyers included Germany, Poland, and Australia, replacing Israel, which had led the previous year.
Despite Clever Leaves' exit, the Portuguese cannabis industry remains robust, with other major companies still actively operating within the country.