It’s amazing to experience such an impressive international gathering like Spannabis taking place in a country where legislation lags behind the massive cannabis culture and high social tolerance, criminalizing and punishing anything that goes beyond private consumption and self-growing.
Specialists, celebrities, growers, breeders and users from around the world met last weekend in and around Spannabis 2019. Spannabis is one of the biggest cannabis gatherings in Europe and involves more than 25,000 attendees and 300 exhibitors, two days of conference panels, a cannabis contest and a music festival, making Spannabis a reference point in the international calendar of the cannabis scene. Moreover, the recent announcement of its acquisition by High Times, as well as the call for the International Cannabis Business Conference the day before, made Spannabis 2019 quite significant. This degree of success was pretty much unimaginable when the event began 20 years ago. The increasing contexts of regulation worldwide have enhanced the sector, expanding the opportunities for the industry and the social awareness of cannabis itself.
Despite this global context, if we stick strictly to the side of legality, the pharmacy is the only and most privileged sector currently authorized to produce, transport and sell cannabis. In Spain, the position of this industry is a quite an obscure monopoly. Direct questions to Spain’s current government have showed that is almost impossible to determine exactly how many companies are now authorized to grow cannabis for medical use or research. In the meantime, many new businesses view themselves as working partly in a legal grey area. On the CBD side, the EU novel foods regulation and the moratorium over food supplements containing cannabidiol have stopped entrepreneurs’ initiatives and spread fear among retailers that have faced police intervention that took CBD products for human consumption off the shelves. Nevertheless, hundreds of other possibilities are being explored by local and foreign companies accustomed to working in a constantly changing environment, that seek for safe alternatives to keep their business growing and find a good spot in the market.
Mainstream Social Cannabis Clubs born and raised in Spain for the last decade have had an impact on the emergence of new regional regulations aiming to respond to such reality. Regardless, continuous sentences of the Superior and Constitutional Spanish Court since 2015 onwards have left them with almost no air to continue existing under their current forms. It is getting to a point where, recently this month, while the industry was getting ready for Spannabis, another big threat was thrown into the Spanish Social Cannabis Clubs scene: a sentence suspending the local ordinance of San Sebastian. While it is only one case, it could have a very strong influence for other cities in Spain that have had regulated the activity of these entities similarly. Barcelona is a great example of this, as more than 300 clubs are running under a local activity regulation and, somehow, authorization. Under this perspective, the recent sentence states that being authorized as a non-profit entity to have a private lounge or a venture where combustion is allowed shouldn’t be mixed with distribution. Sharing amongst members on a daily organized system that is prepared to enroll new members anytime does not have to do with the non-criminalized action of using cannabis collectively in private, but with cannabis dealing.
Within this context, there are some political parties with clear plans on the table to regulate production, transport and cannabis retail, while others don’t want to hear about getting into a regulation process and, and some simply reject any discussion about it entirely. This outright rejection is the position of the party that has been in power for the last ten years, and the previous government did not want to get into a regulation process. Spaniards are called to vote on a new central government by the end of April, so there’s still a chance for the flowering cannabis industry of this country. Contact our team in Spain to learn more.
*This post was written by Anna Obradors, a leading cannabis consultant based in Barcelona with whom our Spain attorneys work on many Spain cannabis matters.