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Cannabis in Spain: ICBC Notes

Last weekend I was finally able to attend the famous International Cannabis Conference (ICBC) here in Barcelona, ​​Spain. The event had been canceled for two consecutive years due to the pandemic.

I’ve attended interesting panels on everything from cannabis 3.0 to cannatech to current challenges for cannabis clubs in Spain. I want to focus on that last question today, and the related questions of 1) whether cannabis should be available to the public rather than through exclusive licensing and export processes; and 2) how Spanish cannabis regulations would treat legacy cannabis operators and production. I will also discuss the legalization of cannabis in Europe more generally.

New Cannabis Comprehensive Regulation and Control Bill

The new bill for the Comprehensive Regulation and Control of Cannabis in Adults (122/000169 Ley’s proposal for integral regulation and control of cannabis in adult personas), was presented on October 15, 2021 for debate and promulgation in the Spanish Congress by the confederal group UP-ECP-GEC.

As discussed here on this blog many times (here, here and here), Spain has a thriving cannabis culture with great commercial potential. There is also a lot of public support for legalization.

Unfortunately, Spain lacks an organized industrial lobby and insufficient political advocacy. Cannabis clubs in Spain have operated in the gray legal area for decades and last year a Supreme Court ruling put hundreds of cannabis clubs at risk of closure while the Senate rejected a bill to to regulate cannabis clubs at the state level. After all these years of cannabis movement in Spain, not only do we have no regulation of medical use or medical cannabis, but, apart from decriminalization, there is not even a legal framework for the private cultivation and consumption.

This lack of legal recognition of reality here in Spain was strongly criticized by the panel, especially in relation to the much faster legal developments in the United States, Canada and other European countries. Therefore, the general message of this roundtable reflected a warm welcome to this bill, which would reflect a long-awaited legal framework.

At the same time, the panel also mentioned the incredibly low probability (probably less than 1%) of the new bill becoming law. Although the outcome remains to be seen, the bill clearly reopens a debate that seemed lost and closed, and will hopefully allow us to move forward on the road to the legalization of cannabis in Spain.

Possible Legalization of Medical Cannabis Creates Business Opportunities

The panel on the legalization of cannabis in Spain also shed light on the most likely scenario of the legalization of medicinal cannabis by the pharmaceutical industry. As such, cannabis would be heavily regulated, but not legalized for recreational or medical use. Although campaigners and club owners here in Spain are unhappy for obvious reasons, it has to be said that there will be plenty of business opportunities if and when that happens.

Cannabis markets in Europe and elsewhere

A panel moderated a high-level discussion on cannabis markets in the United States, Germany and Switzerland, versus Spain. The licensing process and business opportunities in each of these countries were discussed. Despite some very interesting moves in Europe, it seems likely that the pandemic and the Ukrainian crisis will further slow down any ongoing legal developments.

Finally, the large Spanish CBD market was mentioned and the lack of legalization was again strongly criticized. Medical growth in Spain is regulated and carried out by pharmaceutical companies, but they generally cannot export to markets where medical use is permitted. Time will tell if Spain can move things forward on this opportunity, as well as cannabis legalization more generally.

#Cannabis #Spain #ICBC #Notes

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