U.S. cannabis laws vary widely from state to state, but they’re pretty consistent in their approach to medical marijuana, unlike at least one European nation.
It’s interesting how the logical approach to regulating cannabis differs from country to country.
Despite the piecemeal approach to legislation here in the United States, the medical benefits of cannabis are recognized nearly universally.
There are only six states (Idaho, Wyoming, Nebraska, Kansas and the Carolinas) where marijuana is fully illegal and another seven (Kentucky, Texas, Georgia, Tennessee, Wisconsin, Iowa and Indiana) where only CBD oil, not flower, can be used for medical purposes.
All the other states have no restrictions on medical cannabis. Recreational cannabis is a different story, with rules differing a great deal from one location to another. Still, the fact remains that medical marijuana use is available to the vast majority of the U.S. population, at least legally.
Meanwhile in Europe there has been a recent push towards legalization of recreational marijuana use. Spain was one of the first countries to decriminalize recreational marijuana.
Spain’s stance on medical marijuana is also pretty straight forward.
Spain’s Approach to Regulating Cannabis
Spain was at the forefront of changing attitudes about cannabis when it decriminalized the growing of the plant for personal use in 2015.
While it is still illegal to smoke in public or buy the flower, smoking in private residences or clubs is permitted.
But Spain has continued to outlaw medical marijuana usage. That may be about to change, however.
Spain could become the newest European country to decriminalize medical marijuana use if a parliamentary measure currently under consideration is approved by the country’s legislature.
In mid-May, the committee of the Spanish Congress voted in favor of a proposal to establish a subcommittee to investigate what a medical cannabis infrastructure would look like.
The aim of the subcommittee is to give “a voice and listening to experiences of others and to everything that can enrich our own reflection: the legal bases, scientific evidence and technical difficulties for its implementation (of medical cannabis access).”
If the measure passes, Spain would join 17 other European countries that have approved some form of medical cannabis.
A recent study found public opinion in Spain overwhelmingly in support of medical use cannabis with 90% in favor and only 5% against.
Spain’s Illicit Market
Spain, and more specifically Catalonia, has been called the “epicenter of Europe’s illegal marijuana market.” Police raided 662 marijuana plantations in Catalonia, the 7.5 million person enclave in northeastern Spain, in 2021.
The region’s climate is perfect for growing weed, so, not surprisingly, people do. In addition, Spain’s proximity to Africa and its position on the Mediterranean make it ideal for cannabis smuggling as well.
Demand appears to be growing. Police in the country arrested nearly twice as many people for marijuana-related crimes in 2021 as they did five years ago, according to Catalan News.
Spain’s approach to cannabis legislation suggests the dangers of taking half-measures when it comes to the drug.
Cannabis exists in a grey legal area in the country where the drug is decriminalized for personal use in a private place, as long as the person using has less than 100 grams (3.5 oz). There are even cannabis clubs in Barcelona, Spain’s second largest city.