Medical marijuana producer Tilray will begin construction of a greenhouse and processing facility in Portugal next month — becoming the first Canadian company to cultivate outside of the country. 

The Portuguese government granted the licence to Tilray who will invest $30 million Cdn to build their European Union headquarters. Tilray plans to distribute pot and pot-derived medical products to patients, pharmacies and researchers — not only in Portugal but throughout Europe.

"It's more environmentally-friendly and cost-effective to supply European patients from Portugal than from northern climates," said Tilray CEO Brendan Kennedy

"Portugal has the ideal climate to cultivate cannabis, a highly-skilled health care workforce and a vibrant research community."

Tilroy was established in Nanaimo, B.C., three years ago and has grown at a dizzying rate. It started with six employees and now employs over 200 people in seven countries.

tilray expands to EU

Tilray's facility in Portugal. The company will begin construction of a new green house and processing plant next month (Tilray)

"We export now from Canada to half a dozen countries and will export to half a dozen more over the next six months," said Kennedy. 

To keep up with growing demand, the company announced last month that it would also expand its Canadian operations with a new 13 acre greenhouse on 100 acres of property in southern Ontario.

"I think a lot of doctors, a lot of patients and a lot of researchers are extremely enthusiastic about replacing traditional pharmaceuticals with products that contain derivatives of cannabis in their formulations," said Kennedy.

Tilray won't be producing pot for the recreational market when it becomes legal in Canada July 2018. The focus appears to be continued expansion in the EU.

"We see up to 10 million patients over the next decade emerging within the EU. And that market will be a 30 to 40 billion dollar market."