Greece has issued its first two commercial licenses for the cultivation of marijuana and production will now begin in Larissa and Corinth.

Corinth lies just south of Athens and Bioprocann is investing €12.5 million ($14.3 million) in creating a 46-acre plot there. The move is expected to create 66 jobs in the region.

Larissa is an important commercial, agricultural, and industrial centre between Athens and Thessaloniki, and legend has it that Achilles was born there. A firm called Biomecann will open an 11-acre cultivation plot there, with a €9.5 million ($10.9 million) investment that will create a further 55 jobs.

Greece’s Economy and Development Ministry said it will issue a further 12 licenses before the end of the year. Biomecann and Bioprocann both have Greek investors, but they’re largely controlled by multinational firms that see Greece as a great base to target the lucrative European market. The 12 companies set to obtain licenses before the end of the year are a mix of Greek companies and international companies that have a Greek partner.

International Cannabis Corp. (CVE: ICC) is one such multinational with a stake in Greece, which is said to benefit from a favourable climate for cannabis cultivation, and labour should be cheaper than in many European countries. Greece has endured a tumultuous economic situation in recent years and its leaders see the burgeoning medicinal cannabis industry as one strong way of shoring up its finances.

The 14 licenses it will issue this year are expected to generate around €185 million ($212 million) in investment and create 750 jobs. That is huge for a country that has been ravaged by unemployment in recent years. Stergios Pitsiorlas, the deputy economy minister, told a press conference that huge Canadian and Israeli cannabis firms have showed an interest in opening up operations in Greece.

Vassilis Kokkalis, deputy minister of agriculture, had a message for the cannabis world: we are open for business and we welcome investment. However, Pitsiorlas added that Greece has no immediate plans to legalize marijuana for recreational use and that all domestic consumption will be for medicinal purposes.

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