by Diana on 23/09/2014 | Uncategorized

Getting Medicinal Cannabis in Catalonia: an overview of the current situation

As every city in Spain has some differences in terms of law and regulation, it is interesting to know what happens in every Spanish autonomous community. Catalonia and Barcelona can perhaps show some of the most interesting points of view in terms of cannabis regulation. Barcelona is the only city in Spain that has hundreds of cannabis social clubs and Catalonia is the first community (besides País Vasco) in making steps forward to legalize, officially, medicinal cannabis. The main important body in health issues in Catalonia is the Departament de Salut de la Generalitat de Catalunya. This is the Department responsible for all matters of public health. The “Conseller”, who is the person in charge of this Department is, currently, Boi Ruiz García. He is the “Conseller de Salut” (the Catalan Health Minister ). It is important to know that an organization named “CatSalut” is also part of the Department of Health , and this is responsible for ensuring universal health care in Catalonia (In Spain there is public, tax-funded health care, so private health insurance is unnecessary). However, neither the public health system nor private health insurance offers an official way for patients to obtain medicinal cannabis.


As every city in Spain has some differences in terms of law and regulation, it is interesting to know what happens in every Spanish autonomous community. Catalonia and Barcelona can perhaps show some of the most interesting points of view in terms of cannabis regulation.

Barcelona is the only city in Spain that has hundreds of cannabis social clubs and Catalonia is the first community (besides País Vasco)  in making steps forward to legalize, officially, medicinal cannabis.

Boi Ruiz, Catalan Health Minister
Boi Ruiz, Catalan Health Minister

The main important body in health issues in Catalonia is the Departament de Salut de la Generalitat de Catalunya. This is the Department responsible for all matters of public health. The “Conseller”, who is the person in charge of this Department is, currently, Boi Ruiz García. He is the “Conseller de Salut” (the Catalan Health Minister ).

It is important to know that an organization named “CatSalut” is also part of the Department of Health , and this is responsible for ensuring universal health care in Catalonia (In Spain there is public, tax-funded health care, so private health insurance is unnecessary). However, neither the public health system nor private health insurance offers an official way for patients to obtain medicinal cannabis.

How do patients get medicinal cannabis?

It seems that the Ministry of Health for Catalonia has taken steps forward to regulate the use of cannabis for medicinal purposes in order to help patients with conditions that cause pain, such as cancer and AIDS, to receive medicinal cannabis. Currently, people with diseases have to go to cannabis clubs to obtain and use the substance. It should be highlighted that medicinal consumers have no special advantages, as in Catalonia (and Spain)  there is no distinction between recreational and medicinal use. For this reason it is very important to start regluation, since the current legislation does not differentiate between whether the substance is dedicated to alleviating the pain of certain patients, or for recreational use. The issue is presently being discussed with the medical community.

Getting Medicinal Cannabis in Catalonia

Catalonia began paving the way to regulated cannabis for therapeutic use almost ten years ago, in 2005,  when the Government funded a pioneering study with 207 patients to evaluate the efficiency of a drug derived from cannabis to treat the pain caused by chemotherapy: ‘Sativex‘ .

The data collected over three years showed that the substance not only was able to decrease the symptoms, but also reduced neuropathic pain and spasticity in multiple sclerosis patients, while increasing appetite in AIDS patients and in people with terminal cancer.

The Regional Minister of Health at that time, Marina Geli, said the study results were “a door of hope” for patients not responding to conventional treatment, but since then, and with the new Health Minister, there has been no progress on this issue.

Compassionate Use

In Catalonia, and also in Spain, there is a principle named Compassionate Use (Uso Compasivo).

Sativex
Sativex

Thanks to this, it is possible to use ‘Sativex’ when administered compassionately. This entails asking the Ministry for the administration of a drug, even if it is not yet approved officially in the country. So the Health Department tries to comply and to regulate it by sending the drug to some patients.

In this way, cannabis ought to be prescribed by a doctor, stating the appropriate cannabinoid for each patient.

Where can patients buy weed today?

Politicians know that the best  place to buy cannabis would be the pharmacy but it is still unknown where cannabis is going to be sold. Boi Ruiz says that he wants to regulate the issue only to prevent people from going to clubs and getting their cannabis there.

Associations are offended by the politicians’ statements as nowadays all the medicinal users go to the clubs to get cannabis for their pain, because there is no other (official) way to get it. Actually, thanks to those associations,  people with therapeutic needs can obtain some cannabis. Clubs are helping them and, at the same time, they are filling that legal gap.

The cannabis clubs in Barcelona even have volunteer doctors. Some associations (the ones that are federated) distinguish between recreational and therapeutic members,  and many clubs have a specific service for those patients. Volunteer doctors study each case and assess what the medicinal users need in which doses, and so forth. There is a protocol to follow before accepting a person as a therapeutic user.

The conclusion is that, although in Catalonia personal use is allowed but not growing cannabis for commercial purposes, there are no official and suitable drugs containing cannabis. For this reason, activists, associations and some politicians are still working to achieve a fair regulation so that, some day, patients can buy medicinal cannabis in pharmacies with only a prescription from a doctor.

Sensi Seeds will keep you informed as more news appears on the horizon.

 

Comment Section

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Medical Cannabis Spain

nice post

24/09/2014

Scott Beckett

Is their any legislation in Andalusia considering growing cannabis for distribution of medical or recreational use's? Are their any considerations by Government agency's to authorize sale of cannabis, (medical or otherwise) via dispensers, rather than pharmacy's? It appears to me that the autonomy's are loosing millions of Euro's a year in revue and much needed employment of thousands, by not adopting a similar legalization of cannabis laws such as in the USA (Colorado).

01/03/2016

Carla Phillips

Is there any where that buys medical cannabis on Spain
Do u need licence or do they even buy from private growers

21/06/2017

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