North Macedonia has proposed legislation that would allow medicinal cannabis producers to expand their revenue by exporting dried cannabis flower to international markets.

The draft law on the control of narcotic drugs and psychotropic substances was approved by the government on Monday and will soon be sent to parliament where it is likely to be passed by the ruling majority.

Currently, producers can only export medicinal cannabis oil. The new legislation will allow for the exportation of dried cannabis flower, which producers already have in storage, to European and global markets.

North Macedonia prime minister Zoran Zaev

Due to growing concerns that North Macedonia’s legally produced cannabis is ending up on the black market, the draft law envisages the formation of an agency for the control of cultivation and extraction of cannabis for medicinal purposes, with powers to carry out more frequent checks on production facilities.

Prime minister Zoran Zaev added: “The agency will be also established to protect the image of the country, because through these investments we want to create many new jobs, as well as additionally boost our GDP.”

Government estimates suggest the country could receive an additional 250 million euros as a result of the move.

More than 60 companies hold licences to grow cannabis in North Macedonia, with the legislation proposing producers pay 10% of their net profits into a state budget fund for projects of public interest.

In 2016, the country legalised medicinal cannabis production under then prime minister Nikola Gruevski. Zaev has gone further, proposing the legalisation of recreational cannabis to boost the local hospitality sector.