Government partners and citizens urge the PSOE to regularize cannabis use

Una tienda de productos relacionados con el cannabis, en Madrid.
A store of products related to cannabis, in Madrid. Luis Sevillano

The debate on the regularization of the use of cannabis has been strongly opened in the Congress of Deputies. In a few days, the PSOE has encountered an offensive by partners and parliamentary allies to demand a law that decriminalizes the consumption of this substance. The initiatives have come from the left, but they go beyond that ideological field. Ciudadanos has demanded that the PSOE and the PP break “once and for all” with what it considers “a taboo.” The Socialists, however, are reluctant.

First it was the minority partner of the Government. United We Can announced last Friday the imminent presentation of a bill to regulate the use of cannabis derivatives, not only for therapeutic but also recreational purposes. The leftist party has long advocated this measure – “I am absolutely in favor,” declared its founder, Pablo Iglesias – and in 2018, when he had not yet reached the Government, even organized a conference on the matter in Congress. “It is about giving legal certainty to a reality that already exists,” said Deputy Lucía Muñoz when announcing the initiative.

United We can already have been advanced by his former colleagues from Más País. And at the same time ERC has announced a similar initiative. There were contacts between these groups with the purpose of presenting a joint proposal, which in the end have not come to fruition, as revealed by ERC deputy Marta Rosique, despite the coincidences between them on the general lines of what should be the legal framework to regularize consumption of this substance.

Íñigo Errejón’s group has rushed to take the step and on Tuesday registered its proposal to Comprehensive Cannabis Law, headed by this first article: “The law recognizes the value and universal, cultural, sociological, recreational, recreational, medicinal, commercial and industrial nature of the cannabis sativa L plant in all its varieties.” It would be, according to Errejón, the “most advanced law in Europe”, which, according to him, would once again place Spain at the forefront of the recognition of certain rights, as happened in its day with equal marriage. Más País aims to regulate self-cultivation, purchase, transportation, advertising, labeling, consumption and professional cultivation. The drug, already legalized, would be subject to a special tax of 35% which, according to calculations of the promoters of the initiative, would allow the State to raise about 3. 000 million euros per anus. “It is obviously safer to consume a substance regulated by the State than by the black market,” said Errejón.

This The latter is the most repeated argument by all the defenders of the measure. “The alternative to the black market is self-consumption and consumer associations,” defended Lucía Muñoz, from United We Can. That was also the main reason given by ERC, one of the government’s usual allies in Congress. “The first thing is to put an end to this existing illegal and uncontrolled market,” said the spokesman for the Catalan group, Gabriel Rufián. Esquerra, like the other groups, maintains that its purpose is not to encourage consumption, but rather the opposite. Rufián agreed with Errejón that the current situation of illegality, which leaves the distribution of this substance in the hands of mafias, rather than dissuading, pushes to consume it.

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In Congress, another way is already underway to regulate certain uses of cannabis, although with a much smaller scope than those now announced and without a temporary deadline to put it into operation. Last June, at the initiative of the PNV, the Chamber approved the creation of a study subcommittee with a view to legalizing the use of this drug for therapeutic purposes. The subcommittee, which has not yet started its work, intended to listen primarily to doctors and other specialists before formulating a proposal. So only the two groups on the right, PP and Vox, opposed head-on. But the Minister of Health, Carolina Darias, showed her reluctance and pointed out that the medicinal uses of the drug are not reliably proven.

Now, the PSOE has reacted suspiciously to the increasing pressure from partners and regular parliamentary allies. The spokesman for the socialist group, Héctor Gómez, referred to the results offered by that subcommission before addressing the development of a law. “We are called upon to work on it and advance in the agreements that may arise in this field,” Gómez limited himself to saying, despite the fact that the proposals already presented or in preparation go far beyond that working group that will focus only on the possible therapeutic applications.

In this matter, curiously Citizens are closer to the positions of the groups further to the left than the socialists themselves. The spokesperson for this formation, Edmundo Bal, recalled that he had already raised in Congress its legalization for medicinal purposes for some time. But he is also willing to join the proposals of United We Can, More Country and ERC. Bal reproached the PSOE and PP for having clung to a “taboo” in this matter. “Hypocrisy”, Errejón had called him shortly before.

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