The cannabis movement, made up of some 1,700 entities throughout the state, believes that with the formation of the coalition government between PSOE and Podemos, the time has come to definitely address the regularization of cannabis in Spain. At the moment, the main organizations of the sector are working to reach a joint proposal that they would present in May to the parliamentary groups of the Congress in order to promote the legislative changes that have already been carried out in countries such as Canada, the United States or Uruguay to decriminalize marijuana. 

The European Observatory for the Consumption and Cultivation of Cannabis , a Spanish group of experts from the legal, health and other disciplines, is the one who has taken the first steps to undertake in a decisive way what a long battle is presumed to achieve regularization in Spain . Not surprisingly, this organization held a meeting in June last year with representatives of a dozen political formations in the Congress of Deputies to present a proposal on comprehensive crop regulation, after which, and on the recommendation of some of the groups parliamentarians, decided to develop a specific law proposal on medical cannabis, which was the most viable then.

The proposed law prepared by the Observatory consists of 123 articles, six additional and four final provisions, which regulate the cultivation of the plant for medicinal and therapeutic use, access to seeds, distribution of its production, user associations and a broad sanctioning regime for violations of these regulations. In the preamble, the editors clarify that this proposal is a consequence of “the lack of complete and updated regulation” on this use of cannabis, which is still governed by an “obsolete and pre-constitutional regulation” , a 1967 law signed by Francisco Franco and an earlier order of 1963. 

“Now what we are working on is to achieve a strong consensus”

But that was before the new general elections and the constitution of the progressive government. Now, the Observatory does not close to any possibility of a regularization proposal, integral or limited to the medical field, as long as it is not at the service of the pharmaceutical industry and leaves out small growers. “Now what we are working on is to achieve a strong consensus , to achieve a broad common front of the entire associative movement,” explains the spokesman for this group of experts, Hugo Madera.

Catfac , the Catalan federation that is part of the state confederation Confac, one of the most important in the sector, is also because of that consensus of the entire associative movement that has been fighting for the regularization of cannabis in Spain for many years. Its spokesman, Eric Asensio, says that among most associations there is already an agreement on the fundamental aspects of a legalization, which, in the first phase, should focus on user clubs and self-cultivation , as well as the repeal of the articles of the Citizen Security Law, the so-called Gag Law, which sanctions the possession and consumption of cannabis in public spaces. 

According to Catfac spokesman, the new government offers many more possibilities

In Asensio’s opinion, that minimum consensus has already been reached, what is urgent now is the establishment of joint lines of action of the entire associative movement to achieve the desired objectives, something that your organization will discuss next week in its management commission. At this time, according to the spokesman for Catfac, the new government offers many more possibilities to undertake a process of regularization of cannabis, because those who support it defend in their program comprehensive legalization, as is the case of Podemos, or have voted laws in Autonomous parliaments favorable to a lack of marijuana use, such as PSC or PNV.  

For its part, the Spanish Observatory for Medicinal Cannabis has already initiated contacts with some parliamentary groups to address the regularization of cannabis in this new legislature, since they consider it to be a “superurgent” issue , which affects thousands of people in our country and you can’t wait any longer. Its president, Carola Pérez, considers that there is consensus in the associative movement on the objectives, although the union around the strategies to achieve them remains to be seen. 

In addition, this organization, which advocates first regulating cannabis to allow medicinal use and then addressing recreational, trusts that the new Minister of Health , Salvador Illa, agrees to receive them, something that his two predecessors did not do in office.

Cannabis as a symbol of consensus

The objective of the group of experts of the European Observatory is to deal with the main organizations, which have presented documented proposals on the regularization of cannabis in Spain, some kind of joint initiative to discuss with all parliamentary groups in early May , when they have turned the first hundred days of the new government. According to Hugo Madera, the joint Congress-Senate commission on drugs would be the most appropriate area to channel this issue and encourage groups to reach some kind of agreement. 

The political consensus, according to Madera, is as important as that of the associative movement to achieve progress on regularization. “ We don’t want cannabis to become a flag against each other , but rather to be a symbol of consensus. In other countries, there are parties of all the signs that are in favor and here we must work on that. That way, we will move much faster, ”says the Observatory spokesman.

“We don’t want cannabis to become a flag against each other”

With regard to the blue bench of the Congress, the aspirations of the associative movement have in their favor the proposal of a law that we can prepare at the end of 2018 to approve the integral regularization of cannabis, and against the declarations of the re-elected president, Pedro Sánchez , who during his visit to Canada in September of that year, when asked if Spain would become the second country of the G20 – after its host – to legalize marijuana, replied: “ I already have enough problems. And there I stay . ”

In their proposal for a law to regularize the medicinal use of cannabis in Spain, the experts of the European Observatory point out that the prevailing legal order “favors the criminalization of users of therapeutic cannabis”, which are exposed to resort to the black market of substances without control and managed by criminal organizations, when it has already been demonstrated in clinical studies the effectiveness of treatment with components of this plant for certain symptoms and ailments. And as a sociological argument, remember that the last CIS barometer in which this issue was asked, in November 2018, 84% of the Spanish population was in favor of a regulation of these medicinal uses. 

The most advanced rule in this area to date in Spain was approved by the Parliament of Catalonia in 2017, a law regulating cannabis consumer associations, which included cultivation and transportation. However, the Constitutional Court, after an appeal presented by the Government of Mariano Rajoy , annulled it  in 2018 considering that the rule invaded the State’s powers in criminal matters, fundamentally, the same argument that the TC had already applied in a previous resolution on a similar law of the Navarrese Government. 

The Constitutionality validated that same year, however, the norm emanating from the Basque Parliament that regulates the work of cannabis associations within the framework of the Law of Integral Attention to Addictions and Drug Dependencies, understanding that it is limited to establishing the collaborative function of These entities with the health administration. 

Apart from this, in Spain only the therapeutic use of two drugs made with cannabis , used in the treatment of different pathologies, is regulated , although its optional prescription varies depending on the criteria established in each autonomous community.