Spain has long been home to a thriving cannabis community, and for several years local cannabis advocates have pushed for national adult-use legalization. Unfortunately, Spain’s Congress recently voted against a measure that would have legalized cannabis for adult use.
The legislation, backed by United We Can, the CUP, and EH Bildu, would have legalized the cultivation of up to twelve female cannabis plants. The measure would have also legalized the possession of up to 3,650 grams of flower or 1,000 grams of cannabis extracts. Industry regulations were also a part of the measure, as well as a 35% tax rate. Unfortunately, this month, the bill was voted down by a wide margin (73 to 263, with nine abstentions).
Part Of A Series Of Setbacks
Spain will still be home to a robust cannabis community with access to cannabis that is greater than most other countries despite the recent vote. However, cannabis sales will continue to operate in an unregulated manner rather than a regulated one. The missed opportunity on the legalization measure is part of a series of setbacks that Spain’s cannabis community has experienced this year.
In 2016 Barcelona passed regulations that permitted cannabis clubs to operate within the city. Barcelona is estimated to be home to 200 such clubs where people can buy cannabis. However, this last summer, Catalonia’s Superior Court struck down the regulations, leaving Barcelona’s cannabis clubs in a state of limbo.
In addition to being home to a fantastic cannabis community, Spain is also home to the largest greenhouse for producing roses in Europe. The greenhouse was recently acquired by a cannabis company with the hopes of turning it into a cannabis cultivation facility that would employ hundreds of workers and usher in a new era for Spain’s legal cannabis industry this year. Unfortunately, the Spanish government has failed to issue a license to the facility, leaving a situation in which there are only a handful of licenses for research and export purposes.
Will Legalization In Luxembourg Change Things?
Legalization on the European continent is not waiting around for lawmakers in Spain to get on the right side of history. For many years, Spain was seen as a country that had the potential to become the first fully legalized nation in Europe. Unfortunately for cannabis enthusiasts in Spain, the country is now falling behind other nations.
Leaders in Luxembourg recently announced that the country will be legalizing cannabis in 2022. It was a move that was anticipated for a few years, and now that Luxembourg is on a clearer path towards legalization, it could help improve the chances of legalization in other nations, including in Spain.
Obviously, Spain just voted down a legalization measure. However, the country will now have to decide if it wants to continue to drag its feet on legalization and see legal cannabis revenue go elsewhere. It’s absolutely worth noting that Luxembourg is not alone in being on the cusp of full legalization.
The Supreme Court in Italy already issued a ruling that cannabis prohibition as it applies to private citizens was unconstitutional, providing legal protection in limited instances. Italian lawmakers are now working to pass a measure to implement the Court’s decision further. European nations such as Switzerland and the Netherlands are pursuing legalization pilot projects to help them craft national legalization laws and regulations in the coming years.
It is estimated that a regulated industry in Spain would create over 100,000 direct jobs and generate over 3.3 billion euros annually. The cannabis industry is going to operate in Spain regardless of what lawmakers do there. It’s just a matter of whether that industry will be regulated or not and if public policy will be effective or meaningless. To quote Spanish Congressmember Íñigo Errejón, “Consumption is already a fact, and you cannot make health policy with activities that are carried out clandestinely.”
Johnny Green is the Media and Content Director for the International Cannabis Business Conference. Upcoming conferences include Barcelona (March 10th), Berlin (July 19-20th), and Zurich (September 8-9).