American lawyer in BarcelonaAs we have written previously (See Marijuana in Spain: Our on the Ground Report), the Catalonia region of Spain — particularly its flagship city of Barcelona, home of our Spanish outpost — is a major European cannabis hub. Despite this, the laws in Spain and in Catalonia and in Barcelona are complicated and their enforcement is uneven, and all of this makes for difficulties and risks for cannabis businesses and even ancillary companies there.

The following should give you a quick “lay of the land” regarding cannabis in Spain:

  • Spain has emerged as a prominent center for cannabis culture in Europe
  • Barcelona is home to 200-plus private cannabis clubs
  • The Spanish government is not terribly interested in enforcing its national cannabis laws, especially in Catalonia
  • Cities in Catalonia have already taken steps towards sanctioning cannabis legalization, despite foot-dragging on the regional and national levels

In 2016, the regional Parliament of Catalonia proposed reforms in line with a 2014 initiative advocated by the Rosa La Verda platform in advance of the 2014 elections. The initiative’s aim was to create a framework for national reform of cannabis laws to permit regions like Catalonia and cities like Barcelona to set their own cannabis policies.

Though the 2016 legislative initiative stalled, our Barcelona attorneys report that this issue has recently reemerged and anticipation is building for a revised version of the bill.

So, what are the key points of the earlier legislation as proposed in 2016? The aim of the 2014 effort was to advocate for reforms to allow adults in Spain age 21 and over to safely and legally obtain and consume marijuana. How has the legislative rules proposal manifested in the most recent legislation?

  • The proposal would define what a cannabis association is under the law.
  • The proposal would set standards requiring the business to disclose the chemicals used on cannabis products.
  • The proposal would obligate the supply chain to document the cultivation of cannabis distribution to consumers.

It remains to be seen how – and to what extent – these policy goals will take form in new legislation. It is also uncertain whether such legislation would actually pass, and how its success or failure might interact with other regional and local action on the issue.

Nonetheless, Catalonia, Spain – and Barcelona in particular – are certain to remain at the forefront of cannabis reform and reform-minded culture both in Spain and in the Europe. The success of progressive cannabis policy in the Spanish government would undoubtedly accelerate cannabis reform in Europe and beyond.

Stay tuned as we keep you updated with the latest developments in Spain’s cannabis reform efforts.