This year is sure to be a very big year for cannabis legalization around the globe, and with it, the emerging legal cannabis industry. That is particularly true for the European continent. At the end of 2021, Malta passed an adult-use cannabis legalization measure, making it the first in Europe to do so.
Germany, Luxembourg, and Italy are all on the cusp of legalizing. Given Spain’s position as a long-standing international cannabis tourism leader, will lawmakers there get on the right side of history or let other countries surpass Spain on the international cannabis stage?
European Legalization Builds Pressure
When considering how fast cannabis legalization will spread across the European continent now that Malta has ‘broken the seal,’ looking to the United States may provide some insight. Cannabis activists in the U.S. worked for many decades to end cannabis prohibition, and once the first two states legalized (Colorado and Washington State), it opened up the floodgates to reforms in other areas.
The same will likely prove to be true in Europe. It took a very long time for a European country to become the first to pass an adult-use legalization measure; however, dominos will likely start falling at a much more rapid pace now. Every country that joins Malta on the list of legalized European countries further builds the pressure on the remaining prohibition countries, including and especially Spain.
Spain would benefit more than almost every other European country from legalization, given Spain’s rich cannabis history and vibrant cannabis community. For many years lawmakers in Spain were able to drag their feet and maintain the status quo because, after all, no country had legalized cannabis in Europe. Obviously, that ship has sailed, and presumably, lawmakers will re-evaluate their positions on cannabis policy. Otherwise, their negligence could result in Spain losing out on cannabis taxes, much-needed jobs, and boosts to local economies.
What Is Hindering Legalization In Spain?
The biggest hindrance of cannabis legalization efforts in Spain is the lawmakers that continually fail to pass a legalization measure. They obviously deserve a very heavy dose of blame. With that being said, there is also some blame that can be placed on the complacent attitudes towards cannabis reform efforts by many cannabis consumers in Spain.
As anyone that has been there will attest, Spain is an amazing place to be a cannabis consumer, especially in Barcelona. It’s a very big reason why it’s the home of the world’s largest cannabis superconference (ICBC and Spannabis combined, taking place this March.) Cannabis is easy to acquire, and the hash in Spain is nothing short of outstanding. Cannabis, while illegal for non-patients, is often treated by Spanish law enforcement with a hands-off approach.
However, there are still people being penalized for cannabis in Spain, albeit not as often and harshly as in other countries. If even one person is persecuted because of cannabis in Spain, then clearly, there is enough justification for legalizing it for adult use. Justification builds even further when considering the economic benefits that a fully legalized cannabis industry would bring to Spain, in addition to the government cost savings that would result from no longer enforcing a failed public policy.
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).