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13 juli 2017

Catalonia legalizes cannabis


The autonomous region of Catalonia, Spain, has legalised cannabis. After a Parliament vote of 118 to 9, the system introduced by the country’s famous Cannabis Clubs will finally benefit from a proper, legal framework.

Back in 2014, the Catalonian government was asked to consider a set of regulations for legal cannabis, and for the network of cannabis associations Spain is famous for. Back then, the project quickly died down for lack of agreement between all involved parties.

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A year later, “La Rosa Verda”, a group spontaneously formed for the sole purpose of promoting the aforementioned legalisation project, managed to reach out to 67, 500 citizens. Their online petition gathered as many signatures, allowing the group, constituted mostly of medical professionals, to put the proposal back on the front burner.

One June 28, 2017, the Parliament voted, and approved the proposal. A historic move for the cannabis industry; Catalonia becomes the first cannabis haven to solve their “backdoor” problem. This infamous “backdoor” is also the way in which cannabis is almost-regulated in the Netherlands: selling cannabis is legal, but producing it is not, making for an uncomfortable grey area for growers and retailers alike.

Cannabis Clubs are now legal in Catalonia

For the moment, no talk of coffeeshops or such similar methods.

The newly voted regulations will essentially work together with the existing network of Cannabis Clubs. This means members of such clubs will continue having access to cannabis in the same manner. The difference: clubs will now be authorised to cultivate the plant. Each of them will be able to produce a maximum of 150 grams of the final product (dried flowers) per year. An agronomist will be monitoring harvests in order to ensure the quantity produced corresponds to the needs of each association. On the other hand, cannabis-based products such as edibles will not be allowed.

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When it comes to travel, each shipment will be subjected to fairly standard regulations for transportation of goods: proper identification, information about origin, and quantity will be required. Use of public transportation has been deemed inappropriate, leaving the task of moving cannabis from growing facilities to Cannabis Clubs to private transporters.

A regulation meant for Catalonians

Regarding consumption, club members aged 18-21 will be able to purchase 20 grams per month, while members 21 and above will be allowed 60 grams per month. Patients on the other hand, will benefit from a complete lack of limit in quantities, a sensible detail appreciated by all.

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In order to stop most attempts at cannabis tourism, Cannabis Clubs will require a waiting period of 15 days for memberships to be approved. Tourists wishing to partake will therefore need to opt for a trip to the Netherlands instead, although well-organized parties may manage to obtain memberships ahead of their stay in Catalonia. But considering the regulation of Cannabis Clubs is a long-awaited source of relief for patients and local recreational users  alike, it is safe to assume the priority will be given to protecting the viability of this long overdue legalisation effort.

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Catalonia Cannabis Club Associations FAC and FEDCAC have released a manifest addressing the new legislation, in which they vow to continue working on good practices, responsible trade, and activism, and express their wish that this great step forward is the first one of many to come.

Read the manifest here.

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