Many people in the European cannabis industry are reflecting on the recent news from Barcelona which has, for the first time in Europe, legalized commercial scale cannabis cultivation. This is the result of many years of effort by the cannabis associations in Catalonia. Its a significant moment for European Cannabis consumers, for the first time we have a regulated system of cannabis production, transportation and sale on the scale agreed in Barcelona.
The driver for much of this comes from the Cannabis Social Clubs (‘CSC’s) in and around the Catalan region. Several hundred such clubs now exist with many concentrated in and around Barcelona. The largest of the CSC’s sell huge quantities of cannabis. On top of the cannabis sales some growers produce large amounts of concentrates such as cannabis oil, shatter and hash. This requires a significant and well organised cannabis supply chain. Without the legal framework protecting the Catalan CSC’s all the revenue would end up in the hands of organised criminals. With the new legal regulation for cannabis control there will be hundreds of well paid, taxed roles which will have job security and a stable future.
Many Catalan cannabis lovers are hoping that Spain’s Federal Court will not challenge the ruling, but this is possible. Catalan voted against Bull fighting in 2010 but this was surprisingly overruled by Spain’s highest court on 2016 who felt that Bull fighting had an important heritage role.
Of the 127 deputies present to vote in the Catalan Parliament, there were 118 votes in favour of the the new regulations, it was a clear victory for common sense. And hopefully other European regions will see the logic in regulating the cannabis market instead of handing it to criminals.
The bill regulating cannabis in Catalonia is the result of a Popular Legislative Initiative that received more than 67,500 public signatures. The purpose of the new cannabis law is to establish the legal framework for cannabis consumer associations and their clubs by regulating the way they work. This means regulations for the rights and duties of the business owners, and the mechanisms for controlling and inspecting their activity from from the public health perspective. The new law will place public safety as the most important issue, rather than criminalisation and punishment which has proved to be unjust, ineffective and expensive. The law states that the social clubs must be non-profit, and that the clubs should distribute their cannabis amongst adult members and encourage private consumption with a restriction of 150 Kg of cannabis sales per club in any year.
Questionable rules are also being developed to discourage drug tourism, with new CSC tourist applicants having to wait 15 days after joining the club before they can buy cannabis. This wont be popular with tourists and is one aspect of the new laws which will benefit street dealers - the last thing the new laws were supposed to do. Perhaps this aspect of the new Catalan laws will need to be reviewed when people see tourist cannabis needs are allowing street dealers to prosper, rather than disappear.
The regulation will also allow for education around the subject of recreational and medical cannabis consumption.
David Pere Martínez, representing the cannabis associations addressed the parliamentary debate explaining that cannabis consumption is already widespread and that the laws must be sensible enough to deal with the situation as it exists today, in and around Barcelona. "Today is a day of celebration, certain grievances are addressed, and we will continue to work so that drug policies build the rights of individual people," he concluded.
The new Catalan laws mark a turning point for Europe. This is the first time Europe has seen USA-style laws which govern an industrial sized cannabis market. Most observers expect the Catalan cannabis laws will be implemented with a minimum of fuss. It will be an impressive example to the rest of Europe. Cannabis prohibition is expensive and benefits the wrong people who pay no tax. Cannabis regulation creates quality jobs, revenue and money for society rather than black market operators.
The cannabis grown for the massive Catalan cannabis community comes from a variety of sources. Much is indoor grown, using good quality genetics often from selected mother plants with known cannabinoid profiles. A mix of autoflowering and photoperiod genetics are grown, and in the competitive world of Catalan social clubs, only the best buds make it to the customers. During the summer months a great deal of cannabis is grown outdoors and in poly tunnels/greenhouses. The outdoor grown cannabis is sold as buds, and also used for concentrate and edibles.
With so many good breeders, excellent genetics and proven breeders gravitating towards Catalonia there is a sense that it is becoming a new European centre of excellence for cannabis. Dutch Passion are taking the opportunity to get involved and have set up their new sister company, Seed Stockers, in Barcelona.
The next few years are exciting times for Catalan cannabis lovers, and for the rest of Europe
July 14th 2017