By Patricia Weiss

FRANKFURT (Reuters) – Germany has accepted bids for supply contracts from 79 prospective cannabis growers as the country seeks to develop its own medicinal marijuana industry and reduce reliance on imports from Canada and the Netherlands.

The country’s drugs regulator BfArM said on Monday it aimed to select growers between April and June, for a total cannabis procurement volume of 10,400 kg over four years. It declined to name the bidders.

A growing number of countries have legalized or are in the process of legalizing marijuana for medical use, including Britain, Greece, Thailand as well as some U.S. states.

Medicinal marijuana prescriptions have been available in Germany since 2017 but all of the drugs are currently imported. There will not be any new legal impediments on cannabis imports, the watchdog said.

The first home-grown harvest could take place in late 2020, the watchdog also said.

Canada and Uruguay have liberalized the marijuana industry completely.

(Writing by Ludwig Burger. Editing by Jane Merriman)