Updated on January 22, 2019. Medical content reviewed by Dr. Joseph Rosado, MD, M.B.A, Chief Medical Officer
While a universal medical marijuana program in Spain is nonexistent, one of its autonomous communities legalized medical cannabis and developed a medical cannabis plan so patients and their loved ones can treat their condition or alleviate their chronic symptoms.
Throughout Spain’s 17 autonomous communities and two autonomous towns, only one district has chosen to legalize medical marijuana: Catalonia. While medicinal and recreational weed are legal in Catalonia, the region does not require patients to have a medical marijuana card.
Instead, many people opt to join a cannabis club. Through their club’s membership fees, patients receive access to the medical weed they need to ease their symptoms. Cannabis clubs throughout Catalonia are also responsible for logging the distribution of their cannabis to members.
Applying for a medical marijuana card in Catalonia is not an option for patients. Within the community, cannabis clubs tend to occupy the role that many other governments where medical weed is legal have, including monitoring the distribution of medical pot and maintaining a registry.
As a result, patients and their loved ones don’t apply for medical cannabis cards in Spain — they join a local cannabis club. More than 200 cannabis clubs exist in Catalonia, but many require you to request an invitation or be sponsored by another member.
Once you receive a sponsorship or invitation, you may pay your membership dues and join the club. After 15 days, you’re eligible to request some of the club’s medical marijuana. Many cannabis clubs also offer a social setting similar to a café.
Recertifying your medical marijuana eligibility in Spain involves renewing your membership with your cannabis club. If you aren’t satisfied with your club’s strains of medical weed, you can always join another association that cultivates varieties better suited to your condition.
An alternative to renewing your club membership is cultivating your own marijuana plants. Many patients, especially those with ailments that make it difficult to travel, often choose this option due to its convenience. To obtain seeds, you can reach out to your cannabis club and see if they’re available through your membership.
It is important to note that Catalonia is the only community in Spain that allows you to grow your own medical marijuana. Across the remaining districts in Spain, it’s illegal to cultivate cannabis in your home if the plants are visible to the public.
Physicians in Spain don’t need a certification to recommend medical marijuana to their patients. In fact, excluding Catalonia, it’s illegal for doctors to prescribe medical cannabis to their patients due to the illegality of recreational and medicinal weed in most of Spain.
Within Catalonia, practitioners may recommend medical marijuana for therapeutic purposes. Even though you can purchase medical cannabis without a recommendation from a doctor in Catalonia, patients are still encouraged to discuss this decision with their physicians.
If you’re interested in learning more about medical marijuana in Catalonia, consider contacting a member of the Catalan government. You can also find out more about medical cannabis in Spain by browsing our blog and other comprehensive resources.