Medical cannabis is still up and coming in countries of the old continent. Scientific research and the increasing evidence of its medical potential bring medical cannabis closer to legalisation in Spain.
The medical use of cannabis had already been supported last December when the UN Commission on Narcotic Drugs (CND) decided to ease international control measures for marijuana, with the idea of removing hurdles on medical and scientific activities in connection with this plant in Member States—an important step in cannabis regulation. The Commission voted to remove cannabis from Schedule IV, which lists dangerous drugs such as heroin, so this substance remained a Schedule I drug, as suggested by the World Health Organization (WHO) on the advice of the Expert Committee on Drug Dependence.
Along the same vein, the Health Committee of the Spanish House of Representatives adopted on May 13th a motion to create a subcommittee to evaluate the feasibility of regulating cannabis for medical purposes in Spain, in consistency with the trend followed by other European and Latin American countries.
Medical Cannabis Flourishes Worldwide
Germany, Italy, France, Denmark, Great Britain, the Czech Republic, Israel, Uruguay, Canada and almost 40 states of the United States of America are some of the countries and jurisdictions that have already implemented programs to regulate the medical use of cannabis following different policy designs. Even though this plant is not legal in Spain, the Spanish Observatory on Medical Cannabis estimates that between 50,000 and 100,000 marijuana users do so to reap therapeutic benefits. Cannabis is used as a treatment to mitigate the effects caused by different illnesses, such as cancer, multiple sclerosis, chronic pain and some types of epilepsy or arthritis, among others.
Socially Accepted Medical Cannabis
The creation of this subcommittee was also praised by Unión de Pacientes por la Regulación del Cannabis, a Spanish patients association for cannabis regulation that also organises Cannabmed, the largest annual meeting on medical cannabis in Spain. “We want regulation of the use of cannabinoids and citizens’ access to therapeutic benefits of a product that is of high quality, affordable, under surveillance and on the advice of a doctor” claims Queralt Prat, president of this association.
According to data collected by the Spanish Centre for Sociological Research in April, 2019, 90% of the population is in favour of legalising medical cannabis. The Spanish Observatory on Medical Cannabis celebrates this initiative to objectively evaluate the current state of cannabis for medical purposes with the help of medical reports, researchers, law experts, and patients.
Time Frame and Cultivation Licenses
This subcommittee must deliver a multidisciplinary study and draw a conclusion within a 6-month period. The aim of this study is to learn from other countries’ experiences, hear the opinion of stakeholders, and present a report to the Spanish government to be consulted when regulating medical cannabis in the country.
While scientific evidence and subcommittee conclusions are on their way to Congress, the government continues issuing licences to grow cannabis for research purposes and also to produce medical cannabis, which is then fully exported to countries where the therapeutic use of marijuana has been already regulated. These licences, granted by the Spanish Agency of Medicines and Medical Products (AEMPS, by its Spanish acronym), within the Spanish Health Ministry, have continuously increased during the last year. There are currently 19 licensed companies and entities that have filed their application, following a procedure introduced by a 1967 statute—during Francisco Franco’s regime—that continues in full force.