Portuguese police return hemp flower after acquittal in drug case

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Portuguese law authorities have returned 40kg of hemp flowers to an entrepreneur who was acquitted of drug trafficking charges in April.

The return of the products was part of a settlement in the case of Patrick Martins, a hemp seller and president of the Association of Industrial Hemp Merchants of Portugal (ACCIP), who was found innocent under narcotics laws for selling packaged hemp flowers.

Martins was arrested in July 2020, when Portugal’s Judiciary Police seized most of the products from his Green Swallow CBD shop. In all, the authorities raided Martins’ property four times that year, seizing products worth €100,000.


The decision marks a milestone for Portugal and adds to a growing body of policy clarifications, court decisions and rule changes that are slowly marking the outline of a legal framework for the European hemp sector.

“It is a historic day for industrial hemp and for the players in the hemp sector in Portugal,” said Humberto Nogueira, vice-president of ACCIP.

Martins’ legal odyssey, which took two years to move through Portuguese courts, included having guns pointed at him, being handcuffed and detained.

In an interview following his acquittal this past spring, Martins said the case had hit his business hard.

“In 2019, I paid around €300,000 in taxes, for a turnover of almost €1 million. With company expenses, covid-19 and above all these added apprehensions, I couldn’t even pay my minimum wage most months,” he said.

Tension over flowers

Portuguese hemp stakeholders have pushed for rational laws that would encourage the production of all parts of the hemp plant. But a law that went into effect last January put tight restrictions on hemp production and was aimed specifically at shutting down trade in hemp flowers – in contravention of clear European Union laws.

Stakeholders have said the law is disincentivizing to farmers and processors, and puts the country’s nascent hemp industry in peril.

“We are a far cry from the government’s promises, which often boast of encouraging young entrepreneurs,” Martins said.

Martins also said following his acquittal that he will seek €10 million in compensation.

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