Monday, April 15, 2024

Is marijuana legal in Spain and can I REALLY grow plants at home?

THE legality of cannabis consumption and cultivation in Spain is murky, with consumption and cultivation being decriminalised, but only if done in private.

To put it simply, cannabis trafficking and transportation on public roads is illegal and punishable with prison time in Spain, while possession, consumption and cultivation at home for personal use is decriminalised — meaning it isn’t technically legal nor illegal. 

This means that consuming the substance in the privacy of your home is not a crime, as long as it isn’t visible to the public. 

The same is true for cultivation — you are allowed to grow cannabis plants at home as long as they’re intended for personal use only, and that they aren’t visible to neighbours or pedestrians on the street. 

Spanish law expressly prohibits “the execution of acts of illicit planting and cultivation of toxic drugs, narcotics or psychotropic substances in places visible to the public” in the absence of a criminal offence — a violation that’s punishable with fines as high as €30,000. 

What this means is that if a neighbour sees your plants — which may happen if they’re left on a terrace or patio, for example — they are technically visible to the public and therefore a violation, in which case your neighbour can report you to authorities. 

Cannabis consumption and cultivation is decriminalised in Spain —as long as the public can’t see it.

When the authorities arrive, they will judge whether the plants are intended for personal consumption or sale depending on their quantity and their level of harvesting. 

For example, if the plants show signs of having been harvested completely, the police will likely determine they are intended for distribution and will charge you with drug trafficking. 

Likewise, a higher quantity of cannabis plants is more likely to result in a drug trafficking charge. 

Cultivation in spaces visible to the public constitutes an administrative penalty and results in fines, while drug trafficking is a “crime against public health” and is punishable with a prison sentence. 

There is no legal limit to the number of plants one is allowed to possess. 

However, it’s important to note that the more plants there are, the more likely the police are to conclude that they are intended for sale and therefore issue a drug trafficking charge.

It is therefore widely advised to have no more than a maximum of three plants inside your home.

This legal loophole means that cannabis use is widespread in Spain. 

A report by the Ministry of Health found that 40.9% of Spanish residents had used cannabis at some point in their lifetime in 2022, while 10.6% had used it in the past year and 8.6% in the past month. 

The report also revealed that daily cannabis consumption had increased from 1.7% in 2007 to 2.8% in 2022. 

And a 2017 report by The Independent utilising data from the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime ranked Spain 13th on a list of the world’s top cannabis consuming countries. 

Spain is also known for its cannabis club culture. 

It has been estimated that there are as many as 1,600 of these private, underground social clubs in Spain, which utilise the legal loophole to allow customers to use cannabis on their premises, assuming they will remain inside and hidden while they’re using the substance. 

Despite the fact that Spain doesn’t have a regulated legal cannabis program, there is widespread support for legalisation — Spanish media has reported that as much as 84% of the public supports legal medicinal cannabis. 

Just this month, the Ministry of Health announced it was in the planning phase of a comprehensive program to formally legalise medicinal cannabis use. 

The plan will likely be enacted within the next year, Spanish media has reported, and will initially focus on the prescription of cannabis concentrate products issued by doctors associated with the Spanish National Health Service. 

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