The Congress of Deputies, the lower house of the Spanish government, 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.
Full Cannabis Legalization
The objective of the law, as defended by Republican deputy Marta Rosique, was to legalize cannabis and regulate its uses because “denying it or banning it will not make consumption disappear”.
For Rosique, it is a question of public health by considering cannabis as a medicine and thus facilitating its access to citizens who need this substance as medical therapy through a medical prescription.
“In the current situation, people are resorting to illegal means of treatment,” she argues. The law also provides for the regulation of recreational use, as well as cultivation, transport, possession, consumption, dispensing and marketing.
According to the ERC MEP, it is necessary to “decriminalize cannabis, as various European states have done”, in order to “focus on the prevention and treatment of addictions”.
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.
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”, underlined the socialist deputy.
On the side of the Popular Party (PP), Eduardo Carazo insisted on the “no” to consumption which “has a negative impact on health”.
A position shared by Vox which, through Juan Luis Steegmann, highlighted the “mental and physical harm” associated with cannabis use.
Meanwhile, parties that backed the bill argue that prohibition is ineffective and that other similar initiatives in autonomous communities like Navarre and Catalonia have received majority support in their regional assemblies.
This is the third bill in 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 seek regulatory changes to establish a “guarantee regulation” that facilitates access to medical cannabis and accurate information on its therapeutic properties by doctors, companies, patients and institutions.
In addition, last year the Health Committee of the Congress of Deputies gave the green light to the opinion of the subcommittee which studied the legalization of cannabis for medical use. The text was approved with the support of the PSOE, Unidas Podemos, Ciudadanos, PNV and PDeCAT, despite the votes against by the Popular Group and VOX.
Despite this approval, no concrete progress has been made.