June 23 may be the key date. That day the Health Commission of the Congress meets and, if everything goes as expected, the paper that will propose to the Government to regulate the use of cannabis for medicinal. The report itself is nothing more than a document with no legal value of its own, it is not a law, but leaving Congress sponsored by the PSOE and with the support of the majority of the Chamber, the next natural step will be for the Executive to convert it into rule.
The regulation is inexorable , explains the socialist spokesman in the subcommission that studies the matter, Daniel Viondi. "The how is what we have to agree on." A brief but significant statement, since the PSOE has been the key party for its approval in recent legislatures (or the one that has prevented it due to doubts regarding the scientific evidence that would support it). United We Can, for its part, defends that "a good job has been done and the important thing is that in this new phase we all go with the will to reach agreements." After years of waiting and claiming, users of medical cannabis – there are an estimated 300,000 people in Spain – see a light at the end of a tunnel of self-diagnosis, home remedies and the black market.
Comprehensive regulation, a demand from the collective that has the support of at least three parties and two bills registered in CongressFor now you will have to wait.
The subcommittee that deals with the matter concluded the first phase of the work last Monday, when the last experts cited appeared before the deputies. After some people in charge of the medicinal programs of other countries and doctors and psychiatrists, for this last day the associations that represent the patients remained, who demanded that the users of medicinal cannabis be placed at the center of the debate.
Carola Pérez, president of the Spanish Observatory of Medicinal Cannabis (OECM) and one of those indirectly responsible for the creation of the subcommission based on pressure on politicians, explained that "cannabis is a safe substance for the patient, not only taking into account The experience observed from the OECM does not count, but from research works where it is shown that cannabis is safer than other neuroactive substances used in both recreational and medical environments.
During the appearances, the apparent inconsistency of the fact that Spain allows the cultivation of cannabis for medicinal purposes – and grants more and more licenses – but only for export: what is grown in the country can only be sold abroad.
Noemí Sánchez, president of the European Cannabis Consumption and Cultivation Observatory (OECCC) and doctor in neurosciences, also defended "a law with different access routes, including individual and collective self-cultivation, as well as low-cost phytopharmaceuticals." Sánchez, a user of medical cannabis as a patient with multiple sclerosis, just as Pérez is because of her chronic neuropathic pain, highlighted, as her counterpart did, the urgency of regulation for some patients who, they affirm, cannot wait any longer.
The socialist Viondi refers to this type of detail when he explains that the "how" is what must be agreed upon. Who should prescribe it? For whom? What products will be legal? Patient associations such as the OECM and the OECCC advocate for a regulation that allows home preparations, self-cultivation and products such as oils or master formulas that would be made in pharmacies ad hoc for each patient.
The PSOE, in charge of drafting the report proposal that later the different groups will be able to amend, is not so clear. "The roadmap is: legal and health security, [dispensación] under medical prescription and under the umbrella of the Spanish Agency for Medicines and Health Products (AEMPS). Anything that is dispensed to a person must have a medical prescription and the medicines must be proposed and approved by the AEMPS," Viondi explains his position.
What about master formulas, for example, or dried flowers (buds) to inhale in vapers or smoke? "We have not closed that possibility," replies the deputy, although he clarifies that "inhalation is not within the lines. It is not ruled out either, but it is not our favorite option given the examples of the rest of the countries."
The socialist position, which will probably be reflected in his presentation proposal, focuses on cannabis products that do not have the category of classic medicine, to call it in some way (they have not passed the clinical trials that standard medicines do, which they can last more than a decade), but they are guaranteed by having followed certain procedures: a standardized flower in some way, an oil with a certain concentration of THC or CBD (the two main active ingredients of the plant). Israel, one of the countries with the most advanced medical cannabis program in the world, has several registered products of this style, like for example the panaxia.
In any case, no one wants to be maximalist in this debate, the parties in favor of regulation are aware (which in principle is the majority of the investiture, with Vox in the resounding "no" and the PP probably also there, although it has not been blunt ) that expectations are high and that if the regulation proposal does not eventually go ahead, it would be a severe setback for a broad group.
Nor United We Can, despite the fact that it has also registered in Congress a comprehensive regulation proposal. Her spokesperson on the subcommittee, Lucía Muñoz Dalda, values that this "has served to look at the environment in which we are", she explains, referring to the many European countries that do have cannabis programs already in operation. "When a debate arises from a reality, that there are 300,000 patients who use cannabis on the black market, what do we do? Do we deny the reality?" She reflects. "The important thing is that we have reached the end of the subcommittee according to the established deadlines and now the important stage of formulating the proposal for conclusions begins, and there we will have to negotiate and reach agreements on the content."
UP, he assures, will arrive on the 30th of this month, the scheduled date for the PSOE to deliver its proposal, without red lines. "I think a good job has been done and the important thing is that in this new phase we all go with the will to reach agreements," he values.
Along similar lines, Josune Gorospe, a PNV deputy and political party responsible for the existence of the subcommittee (it was his group who proposed to create it), who describes as "milestones" first that the commission was created and now that the first part has been positively concluded. And he wants more. "In this new stage we express our desire to reach a third milestone that does not go beyond the aim of achieving, also by a large majority, the approval by the Chamber of a subcommittee report that represents some progress, no matter how small it may seem to those who have great pretensions and be a giant that can be considered by those who do not deem it necessary to move a comma from the current regulatory framework", he explains.
Gorospe also values that "a considerable part of those appearing consider it necessary to advance in the adoption of measures that facilitate regulated access, under medical prescription and controlled, improving the quality of life of people who suffer from some ailments and who could be relieved if they were facilitated access to cannabis for therapeutic use".
A circumstance that occurs in the Spanish case and surprises both patients and some deputies –especially those installed in the "yes" to the regulation– is that in Spain the debate is marked by the left-right axis. With the exception of the PNV and the unknown number of the Catalan nationalists of Junts and the PDeCAT, the left supports the regulation and the right rejects it.
"This issue should not be a matter of left or right," summarizes Muñoz Dalda's feeling. "In many countries, regulation has been led by the extreme right," he adds, referring to Israel, where Ariel Sharon promoted the program. "It is a health issue, although here the debate is marked by the left-right axis without an ideological reason behind it other than separating."
The PP is in the "no" because, it assures, the evidence regarding the medicinal value of cannabis is insufficient. A position similar to the one maintained by the PSOE until a few months ago, but which has changed in part due to the change of opinion of the UN, which removed the plant from the list of most dangerous drugs and without medicinal valueand with the declarations of the experts in the commissions.
Another of the unknowns that remains to be resolved is the role that will remain for the clubs and the associative movement, the axis on which the cannabis movement was articulated (and which has been taken as a reference by other countries) until the appearance of the lobbies, with a more markedly political character. According to the position of the PSOE, it does not seem that in this normative movement the legal limbo in which they move will changealthough parties such as UP or organizations such as the OECCC have asked "that the peculiarities of the Spanish case, such as the widespread use of self-cultivation and cannabis social clubs, be taken into account in public policies."