Spain’s Constitutional Court overturns Catalan law on cannabis clubs

The judges unanimously agreed that the content of the law infringes on the powers of the state

MARIONA FERRER I FORNELLS

On Wednesday, a plenary session of the Constitutional Court unanimously decided to overturn the Catalan law of 6 July 2017 relating to cannabis consumer associations, for being unconstitutional and legally void. The ruling states that the content of the regional law infringes on the powers of the state. The law, drafted as the result of a popular legislative initiative (PLI), had the backing of every party in the Catalan Parliament except for the PP.

Specifically, the law established the conditions by which individuals may join a cannabis association, such as being over 18, and the maximum amount which the clubs are allowed to produce (150 kilos a year). According to the law’s supporters, legalization would not lead to an increase in consumption. "The control over the supply will be well regulated, it won’t end up in the hands of third parties or be used improperly", said Dr David Pere Martínez, speaking before Parliament at the time.

The law was suspended last December after the Constitutional Court (CC) accepted the appeal lodged by Mariano Rajoy's government. The cannabis associations, which once again were consigned to a form of legal limbo, vowed to bring the suspended law before the Spanish parliament.

In its ruling, the CC states that the Catalan law has many similarities to those in Navarre and the Basque Country, passed in 2014 and 2017, which were also ruled unconstitutional. It goes on to say that "although cannabis contains active elements or substances which may have therapeutic uses, it is not, strictly speaking, a drug or medication, but a substance classified as a narcotic". As a result, marijuana’s regulation must be in the hands of the State, which has sole responsibility for establishing the criminal penalties for narcotics, in accordance with article 149.1.6 of the Spanish Constitution.

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