Cannabis Legalization in Spain, It’s Complicated
Cannabis, popularly known as “ganja,” is a popular drug in Spain. However, the legal status of the drug is complicated.
Every year, cannabis advocates and entrepreneurs in Spain gather to discuss the current issues in the sector. This event is called the International Cannabis Business Conference (ICBC), and it is held every year in Barcelona. This year’s ICBC event was held a week ago to the delight of many. No thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic, the event had to be postponed in 2020 and 2021—because the world was focused on the pressing issue of providing for its citizens in hard times. It was no surprise when the agenda to be discussed this year was filled to the brim.
The renowned International Cannabis Business Conference (ICBC) was attended by several notable personalities who are all vested in the European cannabis industry. Multiple panels were held to discuss issues related to the latest cannabis technologies, cannabis 3.0, and the various hurdles faced by cannabis spaces within the country. Debates were also held to discuss whether or not adult-use cannabis is the next step for the industry. Some argue that it would be best for cannabis to be available to the public only through limited licensing and exports.
The issue of legacy cannabis operators and production was also broached and discussed extensively.
Regulating Cannabis in Spain
In October 2021, a new draft bill to regulate and control cannabis sales was introduced to the country’s legislature. The bill is titled Proposición de Ley Dr. Regulación Integral y Control del Cannabis en Personal Adultas (translated as the internal regulation and control of recreational or adult-use cannabis).
The Spanish Congress has yet to debate or enact the bill into the constitution, despite Spain’s thriving cannabis culture. The majority of Spanish residents have expressed their massive support for any form of cannabis reform, whether it be medical cannabis, recreational cannabis, or both. Unfortunately, the government has yet to heed the calls of its residents.
Spain has had at least five years to put an organized structure for its cannabis industry. There’s very little political advocacy for the drug and no arrangements to organize an industry lobby. The grey area provided by the law has been the foundation of the cannabis clubs within the cities. Cannabis clubs have been in existence for about twenty years or more. These clubs are a source of tourism revenue for the country. Unfortunately, the Supreme Court ended these operations last year when it ruled against their existence. The Senate also threw out a bill to legalize cannabis at various state levels.
The current outlook of cannabis legislation in Spain is all over the place. The only thing the country can boast about is a bill that partially decriminalized cannabis use some years ago. There are no medical cannabis regulations whatsoever, nor is there a solid framework to encourage the self-cultivation and consumption of medical cannabis.
The reality of Cannabis Legislation In Spain
During one of the ICBC panels, the members criticized the lack of cannabis laws in the country. They compared the existing situation to the faster adoption of cannabis reforms in North America and European countries like Germany and Switzerland. The panelists pointed out that the internal regulation bill that was recently introduced could be the solution to Spain’s cannabis regulation challenges. The bill would provide the much-needed legal framework for medical cannabis or an adult-use sector.
The ICBC event also acknowledged the low probability of the proposed bill’s being adopted. They pegged the likelihood of this happening at 1%. It’s still too soon to conclude on this. However, the proposed bill will undoubtedly reignite the debate over cannabis reforms. Even if it fails to scale through, it will accomplish an important goal of taking the country further along the road to cannabis legalization.
Some of the rules regulating cannabis use in Spain include using it in private spaces (homes or cannabis lounges), age over 21, and if you’re caught violating the rules, you’ll be sent off to jail or fined.
What’s in it for Spain?
The ICBC panels provided insight on how Spain could benefit from legalizing medical cannabis. Numerous business opportunities will come to light once medicammabis is legalized and marketed by the pharmaceutical industry. The panel said that cannabis could be heavily regulated and taxed to generate massive revenues for the country. They explained that cannabis does not necessarily have to be legalized for it to work.
Regarding the cannabis clubs, many activists and owners have expressed their dissatisfaction about the proposed closure of these lounge spaces. The owners pointed out that business opportunities could be discovered within the sector if better reforms are adopted.
The Supreme Court’s directive to lock up cannabis clubs would result in a massive loss of jobs. Hopefully, the ruling will be appealed and overturned in the coming months.
Cannabis Markets in the Neighborhood
Spain is surrounded by a few European countries with legal cannabis markets. During the conference, the panelists referenced the cannabis markets in the United States, Switzerland, and Germany. They discussed some of the business opportunities in these different cannabis markets and proposed ways of adopting some of the reforms in these countries.
The panelists considered the probability of the European cannabis market slowing down in the next few months due to the ongoing crisis in Ukraine. Before the war, the European cannabis industry was getting ready for an exciting movement to rally support for recreational cannabis. However, for now, all legal development will be paused until Ukraine is settled.
The ICBC panelists commended the government for doing everything to make the event a success. Should the government maintain the status quo, which is deciding not to approve any cannabis reform bill, the pharmaceutical industry would take over. These companies choose where to export cannabis to.
Spain could have one of the most prominent CBD markets if the government approves an initiative to legalize cannabis. Even without licensed production facilities, Spain currently has a large CBD market. Currently, no one knows what the future of cannabis in Spain will be like, but everyone is crossing their fingers and hoping for the best.