For the past several years, the Spanish cannabis industry has developed in leaps and bounds. Production of CBD and THC has expanded across the country. The club scene in Barcelona has continued to flourish, albeit with setbacks. The industry, however, much like in the United States, has flourished without federal legal protection. Much like Holland, it flourished in the grey areas of legislation and regulation. The times may be changing soon, as the legalization debate is starting to pick up steam.
Under present Spanish laws, cannabis can be consumed for therapeutic purposes but is still not formally considered “medication” and doctors can only prescribe cannabis derivatives. There are about 120,000 Spanish patients, which is an impressive number. In comparison, Germany’s patient population after the laws changed to mandate health insurance coverage has only reached 40,000 in just under two years.
In October, however, amidst reports of growing police activity (raiding clubs and even stores where CBD products are sold), Podemos, the “anti-austerity” political party, reignited the debate about full legalization. They want to replace the black market, reduce drug trafficking and encourage young people to access the drug legally when used for recreational purposes.
Much like Greece, Podemos sees cannabis production as an economic boon to the country. Unlike Greece however, Podemos has suggested that the industry be limited to domestic producers to keep larger, foreign interests out of the market.
And much like other countries still on the verge of a regulated medical or recreational market in Europe, there is little consensus politically. Podemos might be pushing for reform, and the center-right Ciudadanos has put forward a proposal to formally legitimize the drug for medical purposes, but the Spanish Prime Minister, Pedro Sanchez of the Socialist Party (PSOE) has refused to enter the debate on legalizing marijuana. As quoted by El Pais, when on a visit to Canada, and asked about legalization, his response was “I’m focused on what I’m doing now. I have enough problems as it is.”
That state of affairs is unlikely to last for long. In September, European Parliament members representing the Committee on the Environment, Public Health and Food Safety called on the European Commission to improve access to medical cannabis in Europe while also calling for more research. Luxembourg, the seat of the European Courts of Justice, which just changed its medical laws last summer, is also on a two-year trial program to determine if they will follow German policy of health care coverage, with the ruling party also now calling for full legalization, although this will be confined to residents.
Spain, in other words, much like other countries in Europe, is clearly crossing the bar on the entire cannabis debate.
There is no better place than the International Cannabis Business Conference to learn the latest about the latest developments in Spain, the global industry at large, and to network with top investors and entrepreneurs from around the world. The ICBC will be in Barcelona for a special event with Spannabis on March 14th, just after our San Francisco conference on February 7-8. After Barcelona, ICBC will be in Europe for events in Berlin, and Zurich, and then returning back to North America for a Vancouver conference to check in on legalization in Canada. If you are in the cannabis industry, or are thinking of joining, the ICBC is for you. Early bird tickets are now on sale!