By Roland Sebestyén
Following the presentation of a proposal to regulate medical cannabis in Spain, some experts have also urged the government to legalise the recreational use of the drug in the country.
According to Spanish News Today, separate bills from three political parties – Podemos, Mas Pais and ERC – are all calling for a regulated and legal recreational market, as an astonishing 90% of the Spanish population reportedly believe that recreational cannabis should be permitted.
As the paper reports, each bill approaches potential reforms in a slightly different way, however, they do agree on the most important question: recreational use should be legal in Spain.
The Spanish Socialist Workers’ Party is also in favour of reform as they claim “the benefits of cannabis outweigh the negatives.”
The cannabis situation in Spain remains somewhat confusing. While cannabis is still technically prohibited in Spain, the country has one of the largest cannabis markets in Europe and cannabis social clubs are flourishing.
The 400-500 established clubs have been attracting millions of tourists every year, in addition to the estimated four million local consumers.
The debate around making medical cannabis products available on the Spanish healthcare system is ongoing, even though the first cannabis-based medicine has already arrived in the country.
According to 20 Minutos, Epidyolex, an oral solution containing highly purified cannabidiol (CBD), has been approved in Spain by the Ministry of Health after a two-year trial that involved more than 700 participants.
Antonio Gil-Nagel Rein, a neurologist, and director of the Epilepsy Program at the Ruber International Hospital said: “The potential improvement of the quality of life in an area where the therapeutic options are very small, is good news.
“Access to a new drug with a novel and clinically proven mechanism of action is a reason for hope for patients and satisfaction for specialists.”
Carles March, a professor at the Andalusian School of Public Health (EASP) has called for a cannabis policy change in Spain as the plant has a number of benefits in pain management.
As is the case everywhere, there are some who don’t want to see a change in the way cannabis possession and use are handled.
Regardless of the recent news that Epidyolex is already available for some, the Minister of Health, Carolina Darias, still calls for more “scientific evidence” to support the wider availability of cannabis-based medicines.
In response, Joes Carlos Bouso, a doctor of pharmacology specialising in the therapeutic properties of cannabis, said: “Cannabis improves the quality of life for many patients, which is the most subjective aspect of a disease.”
Questions regarding medical and recreational cannabis reform in Spain are still unanswered – but at least there is a healthy discussion about them both.