On September 27, the Más País-Equo formation registered a bill in the Congress of Deputies that equates the consumption of cannabis to that of tobacco.
Change of current regulations
In this legislation, which would declare all uses of cannabis, including recreational use of cannabis, "free", consumption in public areas is decriminalised whereas it is currently punishable with a fine of up to 10,000 euros. Furthermore, individuals are allowed to carry up to ten times the permitted amount for their own consumption, ‘concealed among their belongings and without flaunting it’. Consumption would, of course, remain prohibited for minors and for all those who are legally incapacitated.
Changes in the professional cannabis sector
Regarding the professional uses of cannabis, a prior authorisation from the Spanish Government would be an essential requirement with the implementation of this bill; in addition, the creation of a specific section in the business activity register with which all those farmers involved in cultivating for professional purposes must register is also envisaged.
Marketing of cannabis products
For the commercialisation of cannabis in physical stores, the bill contemplates a series of requirements that must be fulfilled in order to obtain the appropriate authorisation and to be able to sell products derived from cannabis; among others, these include measures such as security systems that prevent minors from accessing the products, and avoiding explicit advertisements that encourage consumption.
Establishment of a solid regulatory framework
The Más País-Equo formation affirms that the intention of this initiative is to achieve a ‘solid and coherent normative framework with the social reality relative to agricultural, industrial, commercial, therapeutic or recreational activities related to the cannabis plant’; this is while also taking into account the possible harmful effects ‘as happens with regard to the regulation of other substances such as alcohol and tobacco’.
Ensure safe consumption
In this respect, pulmonologists and psychiatrists insist that experts and the scientific community be heard before taking further action along this line, although the formation insists that legalisation would clearly guarantee safer consumption. The obligation to allocate 60% of the proceeds from the sales of cannabis collected by the State in taxes to the health budget is also envisaged in this bill - in such a way that this economic sector contributes to the improvement of the public health system.
The end of the illegal market and a substantial gain for the State
With this comprehensive cannabis law, Más País-Equo affects the position of the Observatorio Europeo del Cannabis, and, according to Íñigo Errejón, we would be be before the most advanced law in Europe, which would place Spain at the forefront in this matter. Thus, according to the Más País-Equo formation’s calculations, once the cultivation, purchase, advertising, transport, labelling, packaging and consumption have been regulated and legalised, the business would allow the State to collect close to 3,000 million euros per year in Spain, and it would facilitate the creation of some 100,000 jobs. They indicate that there would be a special tax of 35% on cannabis, and it would be an important step towards ending the illegal markets and mafias.
With this initiative, Más País is ahead of Unidas Podemos, which announced a few days ago that it was finalising a policy in this area, and forces the PSOE to tackle the debate on legalisation. They indicate that in their opinion, ‘the work of the public powers should not consist of mere prohibition, but rather of dissecting the moments and circumstances in which it should intervene in public interest at the same time as it safeguards and guarantees personal freedom. This allows, as in the case of this law, to milk the opportunities and benefits that cannabis offers, minimising the potential risks that it may entail.’
Resolution of the Proposal
Following the vote in Congress on 19th October, this proposal was not successful despite the support of United We Can (the coalition partner of the PSOE Government), which has also registered its own proposal. The socialist party PSOE, together with the PP (Partido Popular, the ‘Popular Party’) and Vox, have voted "no" to this bill. The PNV abstained and Ciudadanos, who appealed for "freedom" to give their 'yes' during the debate in the plenary session, have criticised the position of rejection from the PP and PSOE. Therefore, all uses of cannabis will not be decriminalised at the moment. The Más País-Equo bill has been rejected with 75 votes in favour, 263 votes against and 9 abstentions.
Following the same line as what the European Cannabis Observatory requests, Más País declared all uses of cannabis “free" in its text, recognising "the value and universal, cultural, sociological, recreational, recreational, medicinal, commercial and industrial nature of the plant in all its varieties ".
The three initiatives presented to Congress by various parties with the objective of legalising cannabis will not fulfill their primary objective because they do not have the support of the PSOE; nevertheless, it has at least served to open and popularise public debate in society.