Spain is one of the world’s key centres of scientific research into cannabinoids and their therapeutic effects, having made some of the most important breakthroughs in areas such as cannabinoids and cancer. And yet, the country finds itself in a regulatory hinterland in which the estimated 100,000 patients using cannabis for health reasons face the same penalties as recreational users.

This essentially absurd situation was addressed yesterday in the Spanish Medical Cannabis Observatory’s (OECM) Forum entitled ‘Policies Against Pain.’ Bringing together some of the country’s top cannabinoid researchers, pharmacologists, legal experts, and patients, the day also featured a round table discussion between representatives of Spain’s main political parties.

Politicians agree for the first time that medical cannabis should be regulated

At the beginning of the year, a move towards legalising cannabis for medicinal use had seemed a distinct possibility. But the initial proposal put forward by the Ciudadanos party was blocked by the country’s main political parties Partido Popular y PSOE, with the recommendation that a subcommission be formed to evaluate the plant’s safety and efficacy.

So far, there has been no further movement, and many feared that this was just a way to bury the issue under a pile of bureaucracy and interminable meetings. But in yesterday’s forum, all sides promised to ensure that the subcommission goes ahead at the earliest possible convenience.

patients
Medical cannabis patients show their solidarity at the OECM Forum in Madrid

Something that will provide hope to the thousands of Spanish medical cannabis patients, many of whom attended the event yesterday. OECM President Carola Perez, herself a medical cannabis patient, declared to the Spanish media: “Politicians have to stop putting their head in the sand because we are people, not drug traffickers. It must be recognised that cannabis is a medicine.”

Parents of children using medicinal cannabis were also very much in attendance yesterday, including Ezequiel Arriaza Garcia, father of Sandra, a Spanish teenager with epilepsy, who Endoca has been supporting. It was the first time Ezequiel had attended such an event and it gave him the chance to speak to some the country’s leading lights on medical cannabis and epilepsy.

Dr Mariano Garcia de Palau
Dad Ezequiel speaks to Dr Mariano Garcia de Palau, expert in treating epilepsy with medical cannabis

Time will tell whether Spain’s political parties will move beyond the point scoring that has marked proceedings so far and take positive steps towards the regulation of medical cannabis. One can only hope that the politicians in attendance will have left with the message indelibly marked in their conscience put forward by the hundreds of patients present: ‘El Dolor no puede esperar’  – Pain cannot wait.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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