Please watch our video interview with a Catalan cannabis activist, about how political attitudes to cannabis are changing in Spain.
In the United States, with each passing year, more and more states decide to create a legal, regulated market for medical and recreational marijuana. Many may ask: why is Europe lagging behind in cannabis reform? Well, things are happening more slowly on this side of the Atlantic, but we can see some inspiring recent examples of successful cannabis reform advocacy. Many people are aware of the Portuguese decriminalisation model, but far fewer know about the cannabis social clubs in Spain. Cannabis social clubs are legal non-profit associations created by cannabis consumers to grow and use cannabis on a collective basis. The fact that these clubs can operate in a more or less legal way, and are more or less tolerated by the authorities, is the product of a decades-long grassroot movement of activists. The first club was opened in 1994, with 100 people signing an agreement to cultivate 200 cannabis plants. The club was almost immediately closed down by the police, but inspired subsequent generations of cannabis activists. By early 2014, there were 11 federations throughout Spain, serving as umbrella organisations for a significant proportion of all the cannabis social clubs, accounting for between 800 and 1000 legally constituted entities.
What are the lessons to be learned from the early years of cannabis social clubs? Can they provide a special European non-commercial model of cannabis legalisation? Is there enough political support in Spain to make local experiments a national policy?
We were lucky to meet Òscar Pares, the assistant director of the International Centre of Ethnobotanical Education Research & Service (ICEERS), who was in Budapest this summer. He answered our questions about the clubs, in the video above.
Please click on the picture below to read the report on Catalonia's innovative drug policies, authored by Oscar!
Peter Sarosi and István Gábor Takács