Congress accelerates the legalization of smoked cannabis as medicine after a year of delay

The subcommission to analyze experiences of regulation of the cannabis for medical use starts this Wednesday, February 16, with the aim of being able to legalize smoking this product for therapeutic purposes.

The body, dependent on the Health Commission of the Congress of Deputiesaims to be the accelerator to legalize the consumption of a product that, according to its advocates, has 300,000 potential patients in Spain alone and an expanding market outside and within our borders.

A year and three months has cost the Basque Nationalist Party (PNV) that this subcommittee be formed despite having the approval (with “nuances”, according to some) of all the parliamentary groups, except vox.

It is expected that the body will draw its conclusions before the summer and that, if everything goes according to plan, there may be a document on which to make a law regulating the use of medicinal cannabis by the end of this year.

The use of this product for health purposes is increasingly widespread in Europe, although in Spain it is still illegal to smoke it for medicinal purposes. Even so, and according to the latest European Cannabis Report, our country is one of the largest consumers of cannabis derivatives such as CBD (which is legal).

The Congress of Deputies is aware of the consumption of this type of product and how the rest of the countries are advancing in its legalization. Despite the delays caused by the Covid-19the consultant Prohibition Partners estimates that 60,000 patients accessed medical cannabis in Europe for the first time during 2020, bringing the total number of active patients to 185,000.

Delay

The Covid-19 and the commission for the investigation of the vaccination campaign in Spain have been some of the stones on the road that the PNV has found so that this subcommission was convened.

Finally, this Wednesday a work plan will be established and those appearing will be closed (about 30 people). In five or six sessions, the Congress intends to analyze the experiences of regulating medicinal cannabis in other countries, counting on patients and the industry to be able to prepare the final document.

Possible growth of the medical cannabis market in Europe according to a recent study.

New IP

From the PNV they celebrate that “finally” the subcommission establishes a working group. “The purpose of is none other than to open a serene debate on the study of the medicinal use of cannabis that allows us to approach the matter in a serious and rigorous way,” they insist.

Party sources consulted by this newspaper ask for “the collaboration of all the parliamentary groups to work with transparency, without a priori, from listening and dialogue, and putting people at the center of the debate, and to do so at an agile pace, far from the paralysis to which the proposal has been subjected”.

parliamentary position

Although this initiative is raised at the proposal of the PNV, its arrival at the Congress of Deputies it was the loudest. And it is that, diverse groups of the left like We can, More Country and ERC I know they fought for weeks to see who would first register their proportions of laws for a comprehensive regulation of cannabis. In this case, the groups are committed to a comprehensive legalization, beyond its sanitary use, also for the recreational that is, power smoking cannabis without a prescription.

Now, the deputies pretend not to talk about being “for” or “against” cannabis, but about the study and its possibilities, which is the ultimate goal of the subcommittee. They want to banish clichés: “This is no longer about those on the left being in favor and those on the right against”, insist the associations in favor of cannabis.

The People’s Party, who voted against the subcommittee, will now attend the meeting, although with very clear ideas. “The approval of cannabis for medicinal use must exceed all the requirements that it must meet any compound to be considered a drug and can be marketed“, sources from the group insist to EL ESPAÑOL.

The only ones who remain in the no more resounding are the deputies of vox. The rest of the groups want to present their speakers this Wednesday (even people from the pharmaceutical industry to give their point of view) and, once they start to move forward, “draw our conclusions.”

Industry

Its possible legalization for medicinal use opens the door for the planting and sale of this type of product in Spain to spread.

According to sources from the Spanish Agency for Medicines and Health Products (Aemps), eight Spanish companies have licenses to produce or manufacture cannabis and products for medical and scientific purposes. Along with them, another 12 have licenses for research purposes.

The licenses granted by the Aemps are the most varied. From authorizations to grow plants for the extraction of cannabis to manufacture narcotics, to the import and export of the plant itself. Those with research licenses are usually linked to clinical trials.

Graph prepared by the consulting firm Prohibition Partners.

Graph prepared by the consulting firm Prohibition Partners.

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the consultant Prohibition Partnerswhich has prepared the study on the use of cannabis in Europe, estimates that the market will increase at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 67.4% from 2021 until it reaches €3.2 billion in 2025.

It must be remembered that, in the world, more than 45 countries, including Germany, Canadaseveral states in the United States or Israel, have already regulated the medical purposes of cannabis.

By 2025 they expect several nations to introduce legal access to cannabis for adults, including Netherlands, Switzerland, Germany and Spain. “These sales could rise to more than 500 million euros by 2025,” they insist.

“By 2025, large countries like France and the UK they will have considerably developed their patient access and will represent a significant part of the European market,” the analysts add.

what is legal now

With all this, we must remember that in Spain it is legal to smoke cannabis in private clubs (regulated by law). It is a consumption model where clubs offer members the opportunity to grow cannabis, or delegate cultivation to other club members, and consume it on the premises, or at home.

A study led by the University of Leicester in 2020 found that cannabis social clubs are operating in most European countries. While in many of them their presence is combined with legal consumption for medical purposes, in Spain this form of access is the only one.

A report from the Confederation of Federations of Cannabis Associations figure that, only in our country, there are 1,500 clubs of this type, “the majority operating in Barcelona”.

All these clubs in Spain are facing the same problem as in cities like Copenhagen and Berlin where the locality allows its implementation, but the national law puts impediments.

In Spain, in November 2020, the supreme court ruled that Barcelona City Council did not have the right to regulate social clubs of this type, putting the legality of these organizations in question.

The ruling underlined the fact that cannabis social clubs represent a “short-term solution” to a persistent problem created “by prohibition.”

“There is a possibility that the presence of social clubs will hinder the progress of the total legalization of cannabis by removing some of the momentum of the defenders,” they insist from the European Cannabis Report.

Commercial presentation of CBD in its sale on web pages.

Commercial presentation of CBD in its sale on web pages.

EE

The legal insecurity also the day to day for the only derivative of the cannabis that is legal in our country: CBD. The cannabidiol (CBD) It is a non-psychoactive compound of marijuana with a percentage of THC (Tetrahydrocannabinol, the psychoactive principle of the plant) of 0.2%, which makes it a legal drug.

In November 2021 the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) ruled that a country cannot prohibit the importation and commercialization of CBD extracted from the entire cannabis plant from another country of the European Union, opening the possibility of business and importation of this product.

In addition, and in the same ruling, the CJEU stated that CBD does not have psychotropic effects and is not harmful to human health, so it cannot be considered a narcotic. Following this ruling, the European Commission reported three weeks later that the CBD cannabinoid is not considered a narcotic and that can be marketed as food in the European Union.

It can be taken orally in capsules, sprayed sublingually, or applied topically through creams and the like. In addition, it can also be consumed in the form of ‘buds’ with a price that ranges from 15 euros per two grams.

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