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Could A Pending Court Case Change The Cannabis Club Question In Spain If Not Europe?

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The Spanish cannabis market is one that has evolved over the last several years, primarily via the very greyness of the status of cannabis per Spanish law. Namely, much like it has been for decades in Holland, Spanish citizens may consume cannabis in private “clubs.” Operating them, or indeed growing for them, however, has been perilous for many involved directly in the debate.

Now the legal challenge of one of the leaders of the entire discussion is having his day in a European Court. Namely, Albert Tió, one of the leaders of the Spanish club movement, has a human rights case now headed to Strasbourg. 

Tió, a 53-year-old activist and father of minor children, was the secretary of one of the largest cannabis associations in Barcelona with nearly 4,000 members. In February 2014, the indoor grow facility that supplied the association was shut down by police, and both Tió and two other directors were convicted of crimes against the “public health and illicit association” by the Provincial Court in Barcelona.

This sentence was later ratified by the Spanish Supreme Court which also refused to process the appeal against the conviction. Tió, as a result, left Spain to avoid prosecution and is now seeking retribution at the European Court of Human Rights.

The Impact of The Case On Spanish (And Other European) Cannabis Clubs

The case could well have a large impact on not only Spanish but other European cannabis social club models, particularly in countries like Germany where the right of cannabis has now been enshrined as a medical one, and the right of association, even post Covid, is a hot topic.

Tió’s argument is that his conviction as one of the leading voices for cannabis reform, leading to the origin of the formal “club” law approved by the Catalan government in 2017 is a violation of the rights of autonomy and personal dignity contained in the European Convention on Human rights.

If he wins, as many suspects he might, it will have huge implications on the formal establishment of not only clubs but the associated cultivations associated with them. This in turn, especially in Spain, moves the needle towards a formally regulated industry. 

Across Europe, the win could also upset the apple cart in places like Germany, which have seen three years so far of “medical” reform but no movement whatsoever on either non-medical hemp reform (if not backward steps) and many obstacles in the way of greater medical access for most patients.

While three countries in Europe (Denmark, Holland and Luxembourg) plus Switzerland are moving forward with recreational trials if not plans, Spain as well as countries like Germany have not moved forward to enshrine a formal medical or recreational industry. This also appears now to be on the brink of changing, one way or the other.

For the latest updates on the ever-changing European cannabis marketplace, be sure to attend the International Cannabis Business Conference when it returns to Europe in 2021.