By / February 28, 2023

Spanish Congress Rejects Legalization of Cannabis

The Spanish Congress of Deputies, the lower house of the Spanish government, has rejected the proposal to legalize cannabis for therapeutic and recreational use. The initiative was presented by the Republican Left of Catalonia and supported by Unidas Podemos, PNV, and Cs, among other parliamentary forces.

This is the second time that the Lower House has rejected this law during the current legislature. The previous vote, proposed by Más País, another left-wing party, was rejected by the same groups.

Spanish Congress Rejects Total Legalization of Cannabis

The objective of the law, as defended by the Republican Congresswoman Marta Rosique, was to legalize cannabis and to regulate its use, because “denying or prohibiting it will not make consumption disappear”.

For Rosique, it is a matter of public health to consider cannabis as a medicine and thus facilitate its access to citizens who need this substance as medical therapy through a medical prescription.

“In the current situation, people resort to illegal means of treatment,” she argues. The law presented to the Spanish Congress also provides for the regulation of recreational use, as well as cultivation, transportation, possession, consumption, dispensation, and marketing.

Spanish Congress Would Do Well to Follow Other EU Countries

According to the ERC deputy, the Spanish Congress should vote to “decriminalize cannabis, as various European states have done,” in order to “focus on prevention and treatment of addiction.”

Access to this substance would be through individual or community self-cultivation via non-profit associations. It is estimated that more than 200,000 people could benefit from legalization for medical purposes in Spain, according to the Spanish Medical Cannabis Observatory.

Important Not To Mix Recreational and Medical Use

The Spanish Socialist Workers’ Party (PSOE), through the voice of Alfredo Sancho, has been reluctant to mix therapeutic and recreational regulation.

“We have always maintained that these are two different debates. One helps the quality of life of thousands of patients who suffer from pain, and the other does not,” stressed the Socialist deputy.

On the side of the Popular Party (PP), Eduardo Carazo insisted on the “no” to consumption that “has a negative impact on health.”

A position shared by Vox, which, through Juan Luis Steegmann, stressed to the Spanish Congress the “mental and physical damage” associated with the consumption of cannabis.

Meanwhile, the parties that supported the bill in the Spanish Congress argue that prohibition is ineffective and that other similar initiatives in autonomous communities such as Navarre and Catalonia have received majority support in their regional assemblies.

Other Initiatives Presented to Spanish Congress

This is the third bill in the Spanish Congress in the last two years that aims to regulate cannabis, although the one presented by Unidas Podemos has not yet been debated in Parliament.

A few weeks ago, Ciudadanos registered a non-legislative proposal to request regulatory changes to establish a “guarantee regulation” that facilitates access to medical cannabis and accurate information about its therapeutic properties by doctors, companies, patients, and institutions.

In addition, last year, the Congressional Health Committee of Deputies gave the green light to the opinion of the subcommittee that studied the legalization of medical cannabis. The text was approved by the Spanish Congress with the support of the PSOE, Unidas Podemos, Ciudadanos, PNV, and PDeCAT, despite the votes against the Popular Group and VOX.

Despite this approval, no concrete progress has been made.

(Featured image by Presidencia de la República Mexicana (CC BY 2.0) via Wikimedia Commons)

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