THE SPANISH Government is set to make its final vote on proposals regarding the legalisation of medical cannabis in three weeks time.
If approved and implemented, this could see a major shift in what has been referred to by industry insiders as a ‘paradox’ in regulation, whereby Spanish cannabis firms can grow cannabis for medicinal purposes with a Government licence, but cannot sell or distribute it in their home market.
It could also launch potentially one of the largest medical cannabis markets in Europe, with Spain being the 6th most populous country on the continent with clear public demand and support for medical cannabis, with 90% of Spaniards polled showing support for medical cannabis.
While the proposals have been hailed as a positive step forward, and are thought to have widespread support within the Government, one source told BusinessCann these were still ‘baby steps’ towards a fully fledged market.
What Is Happening In Spain?
On May 13 2021, the committee of the Spanish Congress voted in favour of proposals to establish a new subcommittee which would investigate regulated medical cannabis markets in other countries.
The subcommittee’s formal goals were to analyse the experiences of other countries and governments which have implemented medical cannabis access schemes.
It would then be tasked with producing a report with a suggested framework for a regulated medical cannabis framework in Spain, which will be submitted to the Health and Consumer Affairs Commission for appraisal, before being handed to Spanish Congress for further consideration.
These proposals have now been submitted, and it is understood that each political group has a period of 10 days to make their own assessment, and submit their own amendments and proposals.
The final text is then due to be debated and voted on by the subcommittee on June 23. This will then be voted on by a plenary session of Congress on June 30.
The Government will then decide whether to push ahead with the proposals, continue to gather information and debate the proposals, or scrap the plans altogether.
One Spanish cannabis company told BusinessCann that ‘it’s not as though on the 30th of June we’re going to have a vote to legalise medical cannabis, rather these are the first baby steps to letting them draft some kind of a framework based on the outcome of the of the subcommittee’s findings’.
According to Spanish newspaper El Español, the goal is for the proposals to reach the Lower House as a bill after the summer.
Do the Proposals Have Support?
In late May, the PSOE (The Spanish Socialist Workers’ Party) made a U-turn on its position regarding medical cannabis, and came out in support of the proposals.
PSOE member Daniel Viondi said: “We have committed ourselves to a regulatory framework for therapeutic cannabis. It will be inexorable that it will occur. It is essential that it exists with the maximum consensus that can be reached.”
The party’s support for the proposals came six months after it joined the conservative People’s Party (PP) and Vox in shooting down a bill for the regulation of cannabis that came to Congress in November 2021.
While the PSEO’s support has been hailed as a ‘step forward’ by the Basque Nationalist Party (PNV), which proposed the formation of the subcommittee in first place, its own proposals as to how the country’s framework should look have been met with some resistance.
Spanish Observatory of Medicinal Cannabis (OECM) president Carola Pérez told La Voz de Galicia, that she was disappointed with their proposals to regulate medical cannabis, branding them “insufficient”.
Among her concerns were calls to limit dispensaries to hospital pharmacies, arguing that preventing access in Spain’s 22,000 local pharmacies would force patients towards Spain’s booming black market.
They also suggest that only health professionals from the National Health System will be able to prescribe, meaning the private health market will be discounted.
It is also understood that the PSEO’s proposals only discuss the use of oils and extracts, failing to discuss the use of flower and vaporisers on which many patients rely for a more immediate effect.
While the proposals are meeting some resistance from some members, it is understood that there is general support for the roll out of medical cannabis.
One source said: “Generally speaking, the feeling that we have is that the majority of government is behind taking a step towards legalisation.
“I think that it’s likely that we’re going to move forward. The big question is, how is that going to look, and I don’t think it’s clear from what I’ve been seeing.
“I think there’s a lot of the details that still need to be debated and clarified. In that sense, I think it it’s more likely than unlikely we’re gonna see something in the short term future in Spain. The question is, what does that look like?”