We can not give up and bring back to the Congress of Deputies the debate on the legalization of marijuana for medicinal and recreational use, as Uruguay has already done, nine States of the United States and Canada as of this Thursday. "The discussion is no longer if it is going to be legalized, but when and how. Spain can be a leader in Europe if it does, "says Michael Collins, director of the Office of National Affairs of the Alliance for Drug Policy in Washington.
The expert is one of the invited to the forum that organizes this Thursday the formation of Pablo Iglesias in the Congress with the title Towards the comprehensive regulation of cannabis in Spain. The leader of Podemos assures that "a state industry of production would generate enormous revenues to the State which would result in the best public health in the world". The objective is to modify the current law on narcotics that criminalizes the sale and cultivation of this substance and restricts consumption and possession to private spaces. "It is absurd that you can buy tequila or gin in a supermarket and that marijuana is illegal," consider the political leader.
"The United States is not going to take a step back to the ban," Michael Collins firmly believes. "We no longer export the model of the eighties and nineties." Although at the same time the expert recognizes that the Administration of Donald Trump maintains a foreign policy that advocates to return to those practices. "Inside the country he does not have the support for a new war on drugs."
The latest surveys with Collins account 64% support for the legalization of recreational cannabis. "Medicinal use does not even ask why it is taken for granted," he says.
The only mistake he recognizes is access to a market in "a system of savage capitalism," that is how he defines the United States. "The bureaucracy to get a permit is more accessible to white Wall Street investors than to Latino minorities," he summarizes. "An African-American is eight times more likely to be arrested for cannabis than a white man, but he has less access to the system."
"A prohibition has been applied for a century and we already know that it has been a failure," says the expert, who worked with former United States President Barack Obama on drug policy. Collins raises, using the American example, what a government can do with all those people who use drugs. "Do we put them in jail or do we end up with this model?" He asks.
His bet is to legalize marijuana without traveling before for its medicinal use
His bet, which he has helped to manage in states like Colorado, Washington or California, is to legalize marijuana without first going through medical use. "In Spain you already have an infrastructure with smoking clubs", Considers in reference to these legal spaces in which any person, after becoming a member, can buy and consume marijuana. "If you start with the therapeutic market and then legalize recreational use, the black market continues to grow. In addition, this system does not eliminate the police pursuit down the street from which it consumes even by prescription. "
The Spanish law It allows the medicinal use of marijuana, but that does not mean that joints can be smoked for therapeutic purposes. The marijuana plant, as such, is not considered a medicine and can not be prescribed, but cannabis products. Those who grow this plant with authorization from the Spanish Medicines Agency have their clients in countries such as Canada, where the medicine is prescribed.
"If you start with therapeutic sales, the black market continues to grow"
Regarding the dose, Collins bets because the Government, contrary to what happens in the United States, exercises greater control over legalization, not only with advertising awareness campaigns, but with previous investigations that determine the dose necessary for certain pathologies. that can be treated with cannabis. "But it should not be an obstacle to legalization. People who suffer from diseases can not keep waiting. "
A model for the United States
The rooms of consumption, the use of methadone or the exchange of syringes are some of the examples that Collins wants to apply in the United States. "This drug policy applied by Spain in the eighties and nineties empathized the public health approach with drug addicts," he explains. "The result is that since then the rate of overdose and the use of heroin in general has been reduced. It is what we have to do with a problem that causes more deaths than car accidents. About 70,000 people die in this cause a year. "
The expert recognizes that Spain has not solved the problem with drugs after applying these sanitary measures. "Nor can I say that if cannabis is legalized, all fiscal or drug trafficking problems will be solved," he says regarding the possible benefits that the State could obtain through taxes on the sale of this product or the generation of employment. Two circumstances that neither Collins nor Podemos have quantified at the moment to support their proposal.
"I do not want to oversell our success: if we legalize cannabis, Chapo Guzmán will not retire," he says. Although he does not have concrete statistics, he assures that this measure can reduce the money that the posters get from the sale in the United States by 25%. "The price is not that high, people choose to buy in the legal market," he says, "the number of consumers has not increased, there are no zombies smoked in the street."