A SPANISH REVOLUTION
The Catalonian Parliament has decided to legalise the cultivation, consumption and distribution of cannabis throughout the autonomous Spanish region. The decision follows a petition signed by over 60,000 signatures and a three-year drive which was backed by psychologists, sociologists, pharmacologists and a host of other experts within the cannabis field. Catalonia will now become the first European state to effectively make cannabis a legal commodity.
Of course, Catalonia has a long tradition of cannabis clubs. However, much like in Amsterdam, these clubs have traditionally acted with one foot outside of the law. “What we could not do was regulate the dispensation and let the marijuana through the back door" stated Alba Verges, chairperson of the health commission in the Catalonian Parliament. He was referring to the so-called ‘backdoor law’ under which selling cannabis is legal but cultivation is still strictly a black market industry. This confliction is now on course to be rectified, with licences for cultivation and distribution set to be attainable by club owners. Each stage of the Catalonian cannabis industry will be fully within the bounds of the law.
RULES & REGULATIONS
Needless to say, in order to pass such legislation, a number of strict guidelines have had to be implemented. The amount of product being cultivated is limited to 150 kg of dried leaves per year. Furthermore, all crops produced will have to be signed off by an agronomist to ensure the club’s cultivation and consumption numbers are in line with each other. Age restrictions are also in place - anyone aged 21 or over is permitted to buy up to 60 grammes of cannabis per month, whereas those aged 18-21 are restricted to just 20 grammes a month. The transportation of cannabis will also be strictly regulated and closely monitored.
One speed bump that has delayed progressive cannabis legislation in Catalonia for so long is the widespread objection from officials back in 2014. They were afraid that Barcelona would become a ‘new Amsterdam’ for holidaymakers looking to take advantage of the liberal laws. These fears have been directly addressed in the new legislation with membership to cannabis clubs coming with a 15 day waiting period before customers can consume a club’s product.
There may still be resistance from the Spanish government on the issue. If the matter is to go to high court, the Spanish government could overturn the decision - much like they did with Catalonia’s vote to outlaw bullfighting in 2013. For that, they cited the move “threatened artistic freedom and cultural heritage”. Although such interference from the Spanish government would surely add fuel to the fire that is currently seeing Catalonia’s pursuit of independence gain momentum, so it might be in their best interest to leave this alone.
After all the region is set to have a referendum on the issue in October!