Updated on January 30, 2019. Medical content reviewed by Dr. Joseph Rosado, MD, M.B.A, Chief Medical Officer
With its 17 autonomous communities and two autonomous cities, Spain’s medical marijuana laws vary by region. As a result, it’s essential to understand the potential effect your community’s legislation could have on you or a loved one’s ability to purchase, use or cultivate medical weed.
For years, Spain has allowed recreational and medical marijuana to occupy a gray space. As a result, many patients cultivate marijuana plants themselves or join non-profit cannabis clubs to receive medical weed for treating their condition.
Like many countries, Spain doesn’t allow citizens to use marijuana in public. It also prohibits the sale of medical cannabis — cannabis clubs avoid this by registering as non-profits and charging a “membership fee” to cover the price for the marijuana.
Spain doesn’t support any medical cannabis programs. Even Catalonia, the only community in Spain to legalize recreational and medicinal weed, is without a medical marijuana program. Catalonia’s legislation, however, allows patients to purchase as much medical pot as they need. In comparison, recreational users have a monthly limit.
By providing patients with the option to tailor their dosage amounts, Catalonia resolves the challenge patients face in other countries with weekly or monthly limits. In these countries, patients with severe conditions or symptoms may be unable to find relief due to their restricted dosage.
Most of Spain’s communities criminalize some aspects of recreational and medical marijuana, such as its use, purchase and cultivation. Catalonia is the only exception due to its legalization of recreational and medical weed, though it still prohibits the public consumption of it.
Actions that are illegal in Spain, excluding Catalonia, include:
Though recreational and medical pot carry fines and jail time, cannabis clubs are widespread across the country. The popularity of these clubs — 800 are active today — is one of the reasons Catalonia opted to legalize marijuana.
While the criminalization of medical and recreational weed across Spain’s communities has led to a nonexistent medical cannabis program, the legalization of it in Catalonia has provided the opportunity to create one.
So far, the laws in Catalonia support patients. One limitation, however, is that patients must acquire medical cannabis from clubs. For children with severe conditions, it’s more of a challenge to join a club than to receive medical marijuana from a pharmacy or dispensary. As Catalonia evolves its approach to cannabis, it’s possible for citizens to see additional provisions for medical cannabis’ use in pediatric care.
Within Catalonia, patients receive protection through the legalization of recreational and medicinal marijuana. Patients can carry and purchase as much medical cannabis as they need to treat their condition or symptoms. They can also cultivate as many plants as they wish.
Legislation regarding physicians is limited in Catalonia. The existing laws focus more so on the purchase, transportation and consumption of recreational and medical pot rather than the role doctors play in recommending medical marijuana to their patients.
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