Growing Industrial Cannabis in Serbia – Promising but Underutilised Business Potential

Growing Industrial Cannabis in Serbia – Promising but Underutilised Business Potential

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Growing industrial cannabis as a business activity in the Republic of Serbia is not a new phenomenon. The act that specifically regulates this area is the Law on Psychoactive Controlled Substances adopted in 2010 with its amendments in 2018 (“Law”). Besides the aforementioned Law, the Rulebook on Growing Industrial Cannabis adopted in 2013 (“Rulebook”) regulates it in more depth, meaning the business of growing industrial cannabis has been in the books for around a decade.

Even though growing industrial cannabis is allowed and regulated, the number of people in that particular industry is not very high. The reason for this could be the fact that there is a stigma paired with a lack of knowledge surrounding this activity.

The main difference between two widely known varieties of cannabis, Industrial Cannabis (Cannabis Sativa L.) and Cannabis Indica, is that the latter one features a high content of a psychoactive substance – tetrahydrocannabinol, colloquially known as THC. The psychoactive effect of THC substance is the reason why growing the Cannabis Indica plant is, in many countries, forbidden.

On the other hand, the CBD substance, which is found in industrial cannabis, does not have the THC-given psychoactive effect, making it legal for growing and production. The Cannabis Sativa L. may even contain THC substance but for a plant to be considered specifically industrial cannabis, it is required that the THC substance is at a very low rate, no more than 0.3%.

The relevant law and bylaw regulate the growing and cultivation of industrial cannabis by stipulating the competent authority for issuing the industrial cannabis growing permit, as well as the permit-issuing procedure, entities that can request the said permit, the seed that is to be used in production, etc.

One of the restrictions for the industrial cannabis seed is that it needs to be registered in the Registry of Producers of Seeds, Seedlings, Mycelium of Edible and Medicinal Fungi (“Registry”). In the Registry, there are five already registered varieties, Novosadska konoplja, Fedora 17 s, Helena, Marina, and Monoica. Hence, the growth of Industrial Cannabis is made possible using one of these aforementioned seeds without going through the procedure of seed registration, which takes two years.

Another restriction for the industrial cannabis seed involves the activities for which it can be used. Activities permitted by the Rulebook include the production of fiber, production of seeds for animal nutrition, processing, testing of seed quality, trade, and production of seeds for their further propagation.

Finally, as a look into the future of possible uses of industrial cannabis, many suggest its use as a biofuel and its potential in helping combat the issues we are facing with climate change. What is to be done with that potential, remains to be seen and verified. 

This text is for informational purposes only and should not be considered legal advice. Should you require any additional information, feel free to contact us.

By Milos Velimirovic, Partner, and Aleksandra Bijeljac, Trainee, Samardzic, Oreski & Grbovic