Last Rulings of the Constitutional and Supreme Courts in Spain: More Obstacles on the Way

Spain cannabis clubs The Supreme Court acquits Ebers and the Constitutional Court rules in favour of the Law of Addictions of the Basque Country, but at the same time it reminds us that cannabis clubs are illegal and from now on autonomous governments will not be able to regulate cannabis cultivation.

Last January, in my previous article in this blog, we announced the end of tolerance towards Cannabis Social Clubs (CSC) in Spain. The Constitutional Court (CC) invalidated the conviction against the Ebers association, making it clear at the same time that the decision to consider CSCs to be criminal organizations was constitutional.

After the CC threw the ball back to the Supreme Court, the latter did not take long to respond. Already on February 22 the news that the members of Ebers had been acquitted was leaked to the press. As we reported at the time, this was due to the violation of their right to defence since they were not heard by the Supreme Court before a conviction was issued.

Now the Court has decided to acquit them directly, without arranging a hearing in which the members of Ebers would have had to say whether they knew they were violating the law. For the Supreme Court this absolution is preferable to setting a precedent that obliges them to organize future hearings in similar cases, something to which they do not seem to be willing at all.

In the ruling, the Supreme Court takes the opportunity to recall that the rest of its decision have been ratified and that, therefore, cannabis clubs in their standard form, with a large group of people and open to new memberships, violate the law when they grow cannabis and distribute it among their members.

The Basque Law Remains Constitutional

A photograph showing the Supreme Court of Spain, or the Tribunal Supremo de España. It is an ornate building, imposing, with multipe sculptures of human figures, and a large Spanish flag on top. The sky behind the building is cloudy and bright blue.

Less than a month after this decision, the Constitutional Court issued another in which it rejected the appeal filed by the Spanish Government against the Law of Addictions of the Basque Country that intended to regulate the activities of associations of cannabis users.

Even though the Basque Government was quick to consider the ruling a very good one, the truth is that it is a victory without any practical consequence. If the Basque law is not unconstitutional, it is precisely because, as the Basque Parliament’s own allegations to the appeal say, it does not regulate “the consumption, supply and distribution of a narcotic drug”.

In reality, the law only talks about “collaboration of associations with the administration in matters related to health”, referring to a later regulation to define the nature of the cannabis social clubs. That is to say, the law was not nullified because it only mentions a type of association and activity that fits without issues the current Law of Associations.

Before this law existed, there were already associations of users (not only of cannabis) such as AI Laket! in the Basque Country who collaborated in the field of risk reduction.

Therefore, this is a pyrrhic victory because it is clear that the Basque Parliament is not going to approve a regulation that violates the previous decisions of the Constitutional Court about cannabis social clubs, and especially, the nullification of the law of Navarre, which was possible precisely because it dealt with issues that the Basque Parliament had not yet addressed.

The decision of the Constitutional Court states it clearly:

“we will act differently with associations of users that have no aim other than participation in the execution of public purposes (…)than with associations that are vocal and active about consumption and shared cultivation of cannabis, to which additionally, the co-operation with the harm reduction policy is assigned as a public health objective, this second being supposed in which, according to the provisions of

Put differently, as soon as the Basque Parliament crosses the red line and begins discussing cannabis growing, the law would be nullified and the adventure over.

 Social Clubs Are Worse Off Than Ever

As things stand now, we are in the worst known situation since the early nineties, since from then until last December the ambiguity of the law at least allowed attempts at the creation of clubs with little chance of going to jail.

Now, however, it is a question of time and luck that the current clubs begin closing gradually and their leaders irrevocably condemned, since from now on no one can escape liability on the basis of not knowing the law thanks to the efforts of the Constitutional and Supreme Courts to make the subject clear again and again.

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