Updated on December 28, 2018. Medical content reviewed by Dr. Richard Koffler, MD, Board Certified Physiatrist
With its many autonomous communities, Spain’s federal government has allowed these regions to create their own recreational and medical marijuana laws and programs to meet the needs of their citizens. Due to the varied approaches of Spain’s communities, it’s essential to understand how laws regarding the use, cultivation and purchase of medical marijuana can vary across Spain.
In most of the autonomous communities in Spain — including 17 districts and two cities — a medical marijuana program does not exist. Instead, recreational and medicinal cannabis is legal for personal cultivation and use. Medical weed products sold in Spain, however, cannot contain tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC.
Catalonia is the only community in Spain with a medical marijuana program. This district’s program launched in 2005 and focused on researching the side effects, benefits and potential uses for weed in the medical field. The research encompassed six hospitals, 60 drugstores, 40 researchers and 600 patients.
Spain has a fascinating recreational and medical marijuana history. For years, the country allowed medical weed to occupy a gray area, which resulted in citizens finding a loophole in Spain’s laws — the legislation stated cannabis was illegal to sell, but didn’t prohibit cultivating or carrying it.
Cannabis clubs started to appear in the 1990s as non-profit organizations, which bypassed the criminalization of selling pot. These clubs surged in popularity, with more than 800 clubs now in existence across Spain. Communities like Catalonia took notice of this growth — in 2017, after three years of work, it legalized the use of cannabis.
Across Spain’s autonomous communities, telemedicine is a viable option. In 2012, the country began an initiative to develop a strategy for telehealth, with a focus on chronic issues. As a part of Spain’s healthcare system, the government, foundations, consortiums and church centers all fund telemedicine.
Laws surrounding the possession and cultivation of recreational and medical marijuana in Spain include:
For many of Spain’s communities without a medical marijuana program, qualifying conditions are a non-issue. In Catalonia, the legalization of cannabis for consumption and sale allows patients to use medical pot to treat a range of conditions, including chronic pain, multiple sclerosis (MS) and more.
While Catalonia has legalized medical cannabis, it doesn’t require patients to register for a medical marijuana card. Government groups, however, are working to encourage Spain’s federal government to create a program for regulating the use of medical weed throughout its communities.
Some interesting facts about medical marijuana in Spain include:
Selling is one of the most substantial recreational and medical marijuana penalties in Spain — it carries jail time, even for first-time offenders. The acts of carrying, cultivating and using cannabis in public places are also subject to fines.
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