Therapeutic use of CBD and cannabis: the Basque Country struggles with cannabis regulation while the American CBD market grows
While businesses like West Coast Ventures (OTC: WCVC) are already surfing the wave of rising popularity of medical cannabis and CBD in the United States, the sector in the Basque Country has still a long way to go. The Basque Government has finalized the draft of the rule that will regulate the cannabis clubs, to approve it before the end of the legislature. Patient associations state: “legal fit won’t be easy.”
Following a world-spread trend of legalizing medical cannabis, several US states have already admitted its use to the public. This is a huge opportunity for businesses that leverage on the growing cannabis market. Alongside with legalization, different methods of consumption are becoming popular. CBD edibles market is one of the fastest growing markets in the world. Sales of CBD edibles reached $1 billion in year 2018 alone, and the market is estimated to go up to $4.1 billion in 2022.
West Coast Ventures (OTC: WCVC) is the first American CBD restaurant stock, and a company that utilizes the potential of combining fast casual dining with CBD sector. With Illegal Burger and Illegal Pizza franchises, their mission is not only to serve high quality, organic food, but also to educate people on the benefits of CBD, serving a CBD-infused menu.
Back in the Basque Country, the legal situation is still far from having widely available CBD edibles.
Donostia Leads the Way
Nine out of ten people in the Basque Country are in favour of allowing the therapeutic use of cannabis in the treatment of cancer or other diseases. In spite of this data, collected in the last survey of the Basque Government, the proposals to establish a legal basis for the use of cannabis are sadly still a pipe dream.
It is not easy to take steps forward in the regulation of a uniquely sensitive matter. Almost four out of ten people – 39% of the population – have used cannabis at some time in their lives. 86% have used cannabis in the last year and 4.9 per cent in the last month. In the Basque Autonomous Community there are 7,000 members in 180 consumer associations.
However, social uses and customs do not go hand in hand with regulations that set defined limits. The ruling of the Supreme Court, that on March 5 annulled the municipal ordinance of Donostia regulating the location of cannabis clubs, is a good example of this. Somehow, it brings back an atmosphere legal uncertainty to the associations, despite annullation, it does not prevent them from continuing for the time being with their activity.
This decision of the Supreme Court, which was criticized by some sectors for its “absolute political-ideological bias”, was preceded by the Constitutional Court’s endorsement of article 83 of the Basque law on Comprehensive Care for Addictions and Drug Addictions, which precisely seeks to regulate this type of associations.
Thus, the Basque Government is preparing a draft of the future law that will be approved by decree before the end of this legislature, although it is uncertain whether it will be possible to meet the deadline.
In the meantime, one of the pending debates continues to be that of the therapeutic uses of cannabis. The conclusions of the World Health Organization (WHO) are about to be released, and include pathologies that can be treated with cannabinoids. Aitor Brión, legal advisor to Eusfac, the Basque Federation of Cannabis Users’ Associations, says that “thanks to a leak by a government body” they have found out that the list “has been extended” and that several states are pressing “for the list not to be published immediately” in order to avoid reviving the debate.
In respect to the Basque reality, Eusfac’s advisor understands that the new regulations will have to address this issue as well. Otherwise, he says, it would be to deny reality. “From the medical centres they continue to refer patients to the associations. Somehow, we will have to look for a fit, although it is not going to be easy because of the collision of jurisdiction with the Criminal Code and the Law of Citizen Security. Brión understands that the State’s legal profession will be a watchful eye.
The medical investigation of cannabis has been subject to numerous interpretations. The studies carried out with adolescent and young population indicate that the continued and frequent use of illegal drugs is related to diverse problems, so much in the scope of the physical health, as in the cognitive and psychological functioning. However, WHO supports the “therapeutic potential” of cannabis products for different diseases, and states that cannabis should be controlled to avoid the harm caused by its use and, at the same time, not create barriers to access and research for its medicinal utilization.
The most advanced regulation in this area to date was approved by the Parliament of Catalonia in 2017, a law regulating associations of cannabis consumers, which included cultivation and transport.
However, the Constitutional Court, after an appeal filed by the Government of Mariano Rajoy, annulled it in 2018 when it considered that the rule invaded the State’s competences in criminal matters, fundamentally the same argument that had already been applied by the Constitutional Court in a previous resolution on a similar law of the Navarrese Government.
The Constitutional Court validated, on the other hand, the norm emanating from the Basque Parliament that regulates the work of cannabis associations within the framework of the Law on Comprehensive Care for Addictions and Drug Addictions, understanding that it is limited to establishing the collaborative function of these entities with the health administration.
Currently, the regulation of cannabis clubs in the Basque Country has to go through several stages before being approved.
The draft that the Basque executive is preparing will have to be supported by the Basque legal team and ensure that it complies with all constitutional rules. Afterwards, the text will have to go through the filter of the departments and associations involved for possible allegations. Finally, it will reach the Governing Council for approval.