The days of Catalonia’s cannabis clubs operating in a legal limbo are coming to an end, and for a good reason.
Today, the Catalonia Parliament in Spain, which operates as its own autonomous government, will be regulating the cultivation, consumption, and transport of adult-use cannabis. This ambitious and bold decision marks the first time in Europe that an adult-use system of this nature is permitted, effectively making cannabis a legal commodity in the region.
Three years in the making, the decision is finally receiving broad party support within the Catalan government.
In 2014, a resolution was passed asking government officials to create a series of regulations for cannabis clubs, but due to a lack of consensus among the working groups, the idea quickly lost momentum.
Then in 2015, a group known as La Rosa Verda collected more than 56,000 signatures, prompting the creation of a paper in Parliament with contributions from over 30 cannabis experts. These included psychologists, sociologists, pharmacologists, doctors and a host of others.
The results culminated into this historic move, where growing, consuming and transporting cannabis will no longer be scrutinized by authorities.
“We did not want to do something halfway,” said Alba Vergés, Chairwomen of the Health Commission in Parliament. Vergés is referring to the famous “backdoor law” which existed for decades in places like Holland and Amsterdam, where selling marijuana was legal but cultivation was still run by the black market. That is why growing pot is included in this landmark decision by the Catalonians.
The new regulations say that cannabis clubs cannot produce more than 150 kg of dried marijuana per year. Each crop will require a sign-off from an agronomist to determine if the amount grown is in line with the amount consumed for each cannabis club.
When cannabis is being transported, club managers must have documents detailing the association responsible for the crop. As well, the identity of the carrier, the destination of where it’s going, the date, quantity, and type of product must be known; public transport cannot be used for distribution.
Although these new regulations are for the benefit of Catalonians who enjoy cannabis, marijuana tourism is not permitted. Because of this regulation, the new rules will stipulate that anyone who applies to be a member of a cannabis club will need to wait 15 days until they can partake in the club’s marijuana crop.
Anyone over the age of 21 can purchase up to 60 grams per month, and those who are between 18-21 are only permitted 20 grams per month, but the amounts do not apply to those who use marijuana for medical purposes. As well, these new regulations do not allow the consumption of alcohol in the cannabis clubs or marijuana edibles of any kind.
The cannabis clubs of Catalonia welcome this decision and hope that it will end cannabis arrests in the region. “The only thing we ask for is legal security,” said one cannabis club owner who asked not to be identified. “We have been working with one foot in the law for many years and another one out.”
The Catalonian government is aware that this new ruling can be challenged in constitutional court by the federal government in Spain. The Catalonian Parliament has publicly stated that consumption is legally their decision and that Catalonia is within its legal right to allow this legislation.
The significance of Catalonia legalizing adult-use cannabis for its citizens is nothing short of remarkable. It sets a precedent that acknowledges the failed war on drugs while simultaneously paving a better path for cannabis consumers in Spain and potentially other European countries.
But perhaps Alba Vergés said it best. “The law we will approve is very advanced and gives a very clear message. It’s time for a paradigm shift when it comes to legislating drugs.”