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Spain Considers Legalizing Medical Cannabis

A.J. Herrington

By A.J. Herrington

June 13, 2022

A beautiful dome-shaped palace in Barcelona, Spain

Photo by Mehmet Turgut Kirkgoz

Politicians in Spain have introduced a measure that would legalize the medical use of cannabis-based pharmaceuticals in the

country, although cannabis activists are not confident that the measure will result in meaningful reform for patients. 

Under a proposal introduced by the

(PSOE) on May 30, patients with some serious illnesses would be able to access cannabis-based drugs from pharmacies at hospitals. The bill would allow for the use of the two medications derived from cannabis that are manufactured in the United Kingdom by GW Pharmaceuticals. 

The legislation would permit patients to use Epidiolex, a CBD-based drug that has been approved by the FDA in the United States to treat Lennox-Gastaut syndrome (LGS), Dravet syndrome and tuberous sclerosis complex (TSC), diseases that can cause life-threatening epileptic seizures that are difficult to control with traditional medications. The bill would also allow for the use of Sativex, an oral spray containing THC and CBD that has been shown to be an effective treatment for symptoms of multiple sclerosis.

Personal use and cultivation of cannabis have been decriminalized in Spain, although commercial cannabis production and sales are still against the law. However, legal loopholes have led to the establishment of cannabis clubs that provide marijuana on a not-for-profit basis to their members. This defacto legalization of marijuana has led to a robust cannabis community of recreational and medicinal consumers, particularly in the Catalonian capital of Barcelona.

The legislation introduced last month would also lead to a new role for the Spanish Agency of Medicines and Medical Devices (AEMPS), which would be tasked with regulating cannabis preparations and creating a registry of medicinal cannabis. The draft bill is currently being debated in Parliament and faces a vote by the Spanish Health Commission on June 23. If it is approved, it could become law by the end of the month.

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Bill Would Change Little for Patients in Spain

But patient advocates say the bill will not significantly change the medical cannabis climate in Spain. The measure does not permit the use of cannabis flower, depriving patients of the most economical form of medical marijuana. And so far, the use of cannabis treatments has only been approved for three medical conditions. Carola Pérez, president of the Spanish Observatory of Medical Cannabis (OECM), believes the bill will change little for patients. She has been using medical cannabis for 10 years, a practice she began after undergoing more than a dozen back surgeries.

“I broke my coccyx when I fell off a skateboard when I was 13. Doctors had to remove it when I was 18 and put me on some spinal cord neurostimulators as she suffered from severe neuropathic pain,”

. “It was so painful that you would kill yourself every day. After suffering from benzodiazepine and opioid overdoses, cannabis entered my life at the best moment possible. I started buying cannabis from the streets. Successively, I went to cannabis social clubs, but today I grow cannabis plants at home. I had learned how to make oils and topicals on my own.”

Although she finds tremendous relief with cannabis, Pérez does not believe the new legislation will help very many cannabis patients.

“Public hospitals don’t have proper physicians to treat patients with medical cannabis drugs. It would be a nonsense solution,” she said. “It would become even harder for patients going through this bureaucratic process, forcing them to go to cannabis social clubs or buy cannabis from the illegal market.”

Hugo Madera, a member of the technical council of the European Cannabis Cultivation and Consumption Observatory (OECCC), called on Spanish lawmakers to pass more comprehensive cannabis policy reforms.

“We want a more specific regulation on growing cannabis at home because the law is unclear,” Madera said. “Although home-growing cannabis is legal and there is no penal prosecution, the current regulation is vague about how many grams of flowers you can own and how many plants you can have at home.”

Although the PSOE currently controls the government, Madera is not sure that the party will be able to pass the legislation. He believes that the PSOE may seek the backing of the conservative Partido Popular (People’s Party) to shore up support for the current bill, but an amended version is likely to be more agreeable to progressive lawmakers.

A.J. Herrington

About The Author

A.J. Herrington

HIGH THERE MISSION

WE’RE A CREATIVE COMMUNITY — EXPLORING THE SCIENCE, CRAFT, AND CULTURE OF CANNABIS.
WE BELIEVE THAT WE HAVE A COLLECTIVE RESPONSIBILITY TOWARDS ERADICATING THE STIGMA, MISINFORMATION, AND INEQUITIES SURROUNDING THIS PLANT, SO WE CAN UNLOCK ITS TRUE POTENTIAL FOR ALL.

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