Cannabis associations in the Basque Country, a region in northern Spain, demand new regulations to allow home growing of cannabis for social supply.
The demanded new regulation is intended to let cannabis associations and social clubs produce their own cannabis, and therefore they will not be forced to turn to the black market to get their regular supply. This is the new claim made by most of cannabis-related organizations in this region. On November 5, there was a meeting at the Miramar Palace, in the city of San Sebastian, within the framework of the Eraikiz Initiative, an action taken by different organizations of users and consumers in the Basque Country and which has brought together over 40 groups.
A regulated solution for clubs
As explained by the EUSFAC, the Federation of Associations of Cannabis Users of the Basque Country, "the Eraikiz initiative focuses on collective contributions in the sector to find a regulated solution for all cannabis social clubs in the Basque Country". This task is being carried out under the supervision of the Instituto Vasco de Criminología de la Universidad del País Vasco, or the Criminology Institute of the Basque CountryUniversity. The meeting that took place on November 5 has been the first collective initiative held with the participation of representatives from the cannabis sector within the Basque territories since 2014. Despite the fact that it was initially scheduled to take place in March, it had to be postponed as a consequence of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Since 2016, cannabis organizations in the Basque Country have been regulated under article 83 of the Comprehensive Care for Addictions and Drug Use Act. The implementation of this law was also the result of social activism and advocacy within the framework of the Ararteko forum, celebrated in 2012 under the title “Cannabis. Use, legal security and policies ”. This forum concluded that it was necessary to “seek imaginative formulas so that consumers find a safe space in which to use the substance”, and was followed by a statementthat included all the political groups represented in the Basque Parliament to call for a debate on possible legal and practical solutions to regulate cannabis clubs.
EUSFAC final opinion for 2022
Now, the cannabis movement in the Basque Country aims to develop a comprehensive regulation that will specify the terms and provide the guidelines under which the nearly 200 cannabis clubs registered in this region, according to government records, will be operating. This integral part of the new regulation was already announced in 2016 when the above mentioned Comprehensive Care for Addictions and Drug Use Act was passed but it is now, after the conclusions resulting from the meeting held of November 5, that it has been included in the EUSFAC final opinion, which predicts that the bill will be presented to the Health Authority of the Basque Government next spring 2022, so that it can be considered, and eventually adopted, when drawing up the final regulation that will govern the activities of cannabis clubs.
"Basque Government’s jurists must review the document and then present a final draft to the Advisory Council on Substance Abuse, in which we are also involved," as declared by EUSFAC representatives in a statementmade to the El Diario Vasco newspaper.
“Once the report is studied further, and given the go-ahead, it will be sent back to our lawyers so that they canput the finishing touches to the preparatory work. Eventually, the Advisory Council will give the final approval, and finally the Basque Government Cabinet will have to ratify and approve it”, as explained by the regional Federation of cannabis associations. A process that, according to this organization, it is estimated to be completed by the year 2023.
Cannabis clubs in the Basque Country have been legal since 2016 thanks to the application of the Comprehensive Care for Addictions and Drug Use Act. This law was actually approved in 2018 by the highest national judiciary, the Constitutional Court, while the same court had rejected, a few months earlier, a similar law proposed by the local Parliament in neighboring Navarre region. The Constitutional Court also ruled in favor of the Basque Government, acknowledging its authority to regulate, once the pending legislation is passed, all aspects of the functioning of cannabis clubs in this autonomous territory. This decision comes after the appeal filed against the proposed bill by the previous Government of former president of Spain, Mariano Rajoy.
However, a number of judgments also issued by this same court "keep limiting the attributions of the clubs" according to allegations made by Xabier Arana, Doctor in Law and researcher for the Basque Institute of Criminology (IVAC-KREI), to the newspaper Eldiario.es. One of these limitations affects the growing and consumption of cannabis inside the clubs. "We have witnessed criminal prosecution in this regard, and this aspect is especially worrying" concluded Doctor Xabier Arana.