By / May 8, 2020

Spain’s cannabis clubs are pressing the government for legalization

Spanish cannabis clubs have launched a call to be allowed to open during the state of alarm, like tobacco shops. In addition, they want their activity to be legalized, calculating that the state coffers would collect a minimum of $400 million (€370 million) to alleviate the economic crisis.

The association Cannasalut of La Garriga (Barcelona) and the Madrid-based Dos Emociones -which groups patients who use medical cannabis- have written to the Department of Health and the Madrid City Council, respectively. They are calling for the possibility of opening from the zero phase of de-escalation in order to dispense cannabis to their members, with prior appointment, the prohibition of consumption in the interior, and all the necessary disinfection and prevention measures.

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Lack of regulation is damaging the cannabis associations

As explained by Martí Cànaves, a criminal lawyer and director of DMT Abogados who advises these clubs, associations from Irún and Pamplona will join the initiative, in the coming days. Their call is not limited to asking the administrations to be able to function during the pandemic, but also raises the need to be regulated in a clear way, in the face of the legal ambiguity with which they now operate.

To this end, the associations accompany their request with an economic report, prepared by the economist Pau Teruel, which estimates at a minimum of $1.95 billion (€1.8 billion) the annual volume of expenditure that would arise through legalization. From that amount, the State could collect $400 million (€370 million) through the collection of VAT, corporate taxes and security fees to cannabis clubs.

After carrying out a comparison with countries that have legalized the sale of cannabis (the United States, Canada, Holland, or Israel), the study warns that the lack of regulation of the sector makes it difficult for the associations to survive. That leads them to hide expenses, hire their workers irregularly and, in short, avoid paying taxes.

The report also proposed that cannabis should only be purchased from authorized associations or private centers – as has been regulated in other countries. That would allow the black market to be eliminated. In addition, it would bring to the surface large amounts of money from the sector that for now remains in the black economy.

The cannabis sector would boost Spain’s economy

Based on the fact that 4.5% of the population are regular cannabis users and that each club member usually buys on average $108 (€100) of cannabis per month, the study estimates an overall expenditure of $1.82 billion (€1.67 billion) per year.

Taking into account that clubs have to pay 21% VAT and corporation tax, the state could collect almost $379 million (€350 million) – not including the expenditure generated by occasional consumers – plus another $21 million (€20 million) in social security payments for hiring staff, in a sector that would also generate many jobs, according to the study.

The petitions sent to the administrations add data from the Spanish Observatory of Cannabis Medicine in Spain. The data revealed that at least 200,000 people use cannabis for therapeutic purposes in cases of cancer, multiple sclerosis, neuropathic pain, migraines, fibromyalgia, endometriosis, insomnia, or anxiety.

The association Cannasalut has presented its petition to the Ministry of Health to be able to open during the state of alarm, after the City Council of La Garriga has referred it to the Generalitat, as the competent administration in the matter.

In its letter, Cannasalut asked the Generalitat to refer the consultation “urgently” to the Ministry of Health, if it considers that it is not competent either.

In the requests submitted, both Cannasalut and Dos Emociones appealed to their role as an essential service to society and to the fundamental rights of association, as well as to Article 51 of the Constitution, which obliges public authorities to protect consumers and guarantee the defence of their interests.


(Featured image by M W via Pixabay)

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