There are a number of European countries with emerging medical and possibly recreational cannabis markets coming in the near future. Whether it’s Greece, Croatia, or the Czech Republic it seems that worldwide countries are jumping on the bandwagon, to make cannabis more accessible to those who need it. As Canada pushes forward with its legalization plans the rest of the world seems to be taking baby steps towards a more liberalized approach to drugs.
One country of particular note that is making huge headway in its campaign to legalize cannabis is Spain. Known for its pleasant weather and delicious tapas, the Mediterranean country has some of the most liberalized laws when it comes to cannabis. And one particular place that has set itself apart from the rest of the country when it comes to cannabis reform, is the region of Catalonia. With a political system that gives the region a certain level of autonomy, the Catalonians have been able to spearhead their nation’s cannabis program even when it faces opposition on a legislative front.
Spain’s cannabis market is an interesting one. The first thing to note is that legally speaking there is no difference between medical and recreational use. There is no differentiation between the two for a reason. It gives people who need cannabis free reign when it comes to accessing their medicine and decriminalizes it for those who would like to consume cannabis recreationally.
That’s not to say that it is a no holds barred type experience where traffickers and drug dealers are given the chance to do what they do. On the contrary, drug trafficking is still punishable by law and quite severely so.
So how is it that Spaniards get their cannabis? Well, throughout Spain there are roughly 800 cannabis clubs or associations, that operate without profit to serve those with cannabis needs. But it’s not as simple as say the dispensary setup they have in the United States. You must become a member first for which there is a waiting period, and you must make a donation, once all of that happens you are gifted cannabis. At this point, you are able to enjoy your cannabis on location or take it to the privacy of your home. Because the law does stipulate that any consumption, growing, or selling of cannabis seeds has to be done in privacy.
Which brings us to our next thing to note. Cultivation of cannabis is legal in Spain if its done for the purposes of individual consumption and not for commercial trafficking. But what if you live in a place that won’t let you grow your own? Well, luckily enough that’s what the clubs and associations are for. They can grow cannabis on your behalf after you’ve made a donation. However, there are limits. Cannabis clubs or associations cannot serve an individual more than 5 grams of flower per visit, and a maximum of 60 grams of flower per month. Additionally, clubs and associations cannot produce more than 150 kilograms of flower per year. So their system does have limits.
So I know what you are thinking. Why isn’t Spain a cannabis tourism destination? Well, that’s because to get access to this system you must be a Spanish citizen and be over the age of 21 to get full access. Unfortunately for us, Spain doesn’t want international travellers taking advantage of its system it setup to serve those with medical needs. But if you were to go to Spain to try their cannabis, you would at least not have to worry about getting charged with possession.
The laws have been very successful at passing through their parliament and for good reason, it seems most political parties in Spain have a cannabis agenda. However, the ruling party is the conservative Partido Popular, which rules through a coalition and is notably anti-cannabis. The other parties though which operate in opposition are more friendly towards cannabis legalization and cultivating for a recreational market. The Socialist Party has had typically an ambiguous position towards cannabis, but most recently its members in the Basque country, Catalonia, Navarre and the Balearic Islands have voted in favour of regulation in their respective parliaments, as the majority of their followers approve of cannabis clubs. Izquierda Unida has traditionally been the main source of support in parliament for the cannabis movement. Ciudadanos is another party that has always been tolerant towards cannabis.
Whatever your political leanings, it seems that a regulated recreational market is making its way in Spain. They have a very good start in what could be a long-lasting relationship with cannabis. Already one of the most accepting countries when it comes to cannabis in Europe, it almost seems impossible for them to backtrack or re-criminalize the substance. So keep a look out on Spain for future cannabis opportunities, because its apparent cannabis advocates in this country are not backing down.