Spain Moves Toward Medical Cannabis Regulation

On May 13, the health committee of Spain’s Congress of Deputies approved a proposal to create a subcommittee that will consider other countries’ experiences with medical cannabis. The subcommittee’s findings could pave the way for medical cannabis legalization in Spain. According to a recent poll, approximately 90% of Spaniards would favor such a move.

Spain currently lacks a medical cannabis program at the national level. Two cannabis medications, Sativex and Epidiolex, have been approved by the regulator, but only for specified ailments; use to treat other conditions must be approved by a medical tribunal, subject to variations among localities. Moreover, costs can be prohibitive.

The proposal to establish the subcommittee was tabled by the PNV (Basque Nationalist Party), which has emerged as a curious standard-bearer for medical cannabis. In keeping with its reputation as a conservative party, it is not calling for adult-use cannabis legalization, insisting on a focus on health issues.

Meanwhile, it is expected that the leftist Unidas Podemos will soon unveil a cannabis bill. Consistent with Podemos‘ platform, it is expected that the draft legislation will provide for recreational cannabis legalization, under extensive government supervision.

Going forward, the fate of legalization will largely hinge on the ruling Socialists. The government led by Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez has demonstrated a lack of enthusiasm for even medical cannabis legalization, affirming that “available evidence is insufficient to recommend widespread use [of cannabis] by patients with specific conditions.”

However, at regional levels of government, Socialists appear more inclined to support legalization, at least with regard to medical cannabis. Moreover, a recent poll suggests that 50% of Spaniards are in favor of legalizing adult-use cannabis, at least under some conditions. It is reasonable to assume that the figure amongst Socialist voters is higher. As such, we may yet see the Socialists throw their support behind a legalization bill.