Motion Signed By Basque Parliament To Study Regulation Of Cannabis

Good news from Basque Country in northern Spain.

Nine days after the Basque government announced their plan to pass a bill in 2012 that would 'regulate the cultivation, sale and consumption of cannabis', all other political groups represented in the Basque parliament have signed a non-legislative motion yesterday regarding this matter.

The new motion demands a commission must be formed which needs to conduct a study to the regulation of the already existing 'Cannabis Social Clubs' in Basque Country. The commission will include representatives from public institutions as well as legal experts with the aim of defining a legal framework for these clubs. The new commission is expected to present their results in the first term of 2012.

After announcing their plan nine days ago some controversy was created. Government spokesman Idoia Mendia quickly clarified the next day their aim is not to 'legalize cannabis', since they do not have the power to, they only want to 'regulate'.

The consumption and possession of cannabis for personal use has been decriminalized in Spain since 1974, but trafficking is still an imprisonable offence. Over the years this created a jurisprudence in which providing cannabis for compassionate reasons was not a crime, as long as it did not involve any profit seeking. This slowly paved the way to the formation of the 'Cannabis Social Club' in Spain, and mainly Basque Country.

'Cannabis Social Clubs' are non-profit organizations that are formed by adults who consume cannabis. The clubs organize the collective cultivation of an amount of cannabis that is exclusively meant for the private consumption of their members. The aim of these clubs is to prevent cannabis consumers from being involved in illegal activities. They also have an active policy of prevention of harms and risks and promotion of safer methods of cannabis consumption. Cannabis Social Clubs operate with complete openness about all financial arrangements, so members can see how the costs are calculated and the money is spent.

At this moment there are around 30 Cannabis Social Clubs in Basque Country. Although the first Cannabis Social Club already opened its doors in 2004 (´Pannagh´ in Bilbao) and many others have opened their doors since then, there's no official regulation for these clubs. The clubs are working in a legal vacuum and this vacuum makes it difficult for the Cannabis Social Clubs and their members to operate, never exactly knowing what their precise legal position is.

The signing of the motion by all political groups in Basque parliament and the formation of this new commission is a big step forward to the regulation of cannabis and the Cannabis Social Clubs in Basque Country.

Source: El Pais (in Spanish)