Although they have become much more liberal in their laws, Spain still typically lives in the “gray space” when it comes to cannabis. The Country has a decentralized government with 17 communities and two cities that legally operate autonomously. With that in mind, it stands to reason that some areas are more liberal in their cannabis legislation than others.
Medical cannabis in Spain can be a very complicated topic. You can find legal cannabis in Spain, but it can require some preplanning. In this complete guide to medical cannabis in Spain, you’ll find:
- The legal aspects of medical cannabis in Spain.
- Typical uses for medical cannabis.
- The difference between medical and recreational cannabis.
- Where medical cannabis is available in Spain.
- Possible benefits of medical cannabis.
- Potential side effects of medical cannabis.
Although Spain has “decriminalized” the personal use of cannabis, there are still several strings attached. Let’s take some time to learn more about what can and can’t be done in Spain when you’re talking about the ganja.
Spain’s Laws Surrounding Medical Cannabis
Spain’s cannabis laws are somewhat reminiscent of the “don’t ask; don’t tell” culture of the ’80s and ’90s. In fact, Spain’s fairly “pot-friendly” culture has gained it the nickname of “the New Amsterdam.”
Depending on the region, people are allowed to grow, possess, and consume cannabis in their own homes or on private property. However, smoking marijuana in public is illegal – this even pertains to smoking in your car when you are parked on a public street. If you are caught smoking marijuana in public, you will be subject to a fine beginning at €300.
The autonomous Catalonia region (where Barcelona is located) is the most liberal with its cannabis regulation, but even there, it is illegal to consume marijuana in public.
If you are 21 or over, live in Spain, and have proof of residency, you may be able to join one of over 700 private marijuana clubs. (Sorry. No tourists allowed – unless you are frequenting a club that allows existing members to bring a guest.)
This waiting period was introduced as another means to keep tourists from having access to the club’s supply.
One reason these clubs are so popular is that even though medical marijuana is legal in Spain, physicians are not allowed to prescribe it for their patients.
If you do obtain cannabis from one of these clubs, you need to consume it in Spain, and in many cases, on the club’s property.
You might also like: How to Open a Cannabis Social Club in Spain
Fines and Jail Time for Breaking Medical Cannabis Laws in Spain
These private clubs are permitted to grow up to 150 kg (330 pounds) of medical marijuana per year. That said, if you are able to obtain some medical marijuana, it’s important to note that taking marijuana across borders is still considered drug trafficking and will result in jail time and fines.
Since we’re talking about legal ramifications of marijuana, it’s also important to understand that although residents can grow plants on their own property (as long as they aren’t visible to the public), they cannot sell or distribute cannabis.
- The penalty for selling cannabis is one to three years in jail and a fine of €100 – €1,000 for minor offenses.
- Serious offenses will be fined at least €601 and may exceed €30,000.
- Very serious offenses will be fined at least €30,001 and could exceed €600,000.
- Multiple time offenders, or people found to be selling large amounts of marijuana, will incur higher fines and long jail time.
Interestingly, it is legal to sell and distribute cannabis paraphernalia and products such as seeds and other hemp products in Spain. In order to do this, one must make sure that the products are properly registered and have the EU’s associated required barcodes affixed to the products.
Typical Uses for Medical Cannabis
When you are consulting with your doctor about your desire to add medical marijuana to your overall care regime, it’s beneficial to understand what strains are most effective for treating which symptoms.
Although there aren’t definitive human clinical studies proving its successful usefulness, below is a partial grid that will help you understand what strain of cannabis may work best for your symptoms as there isn’t one single strain that can successfully be used for all symptoms.
|Recommended Cannabis Strain||Symptom/Illness|
|Afgooy||Insomnia, nausea, stomach ailments, chronic migraines, inflammation, stress, anxiety, can induce hunger|
|AK-47||Anti-stress for neuropathy, daydreaming, muscular pain, pain relief|
|Blueberry + Kush||Medium body high, Medium pain control, Strong sleep aid|
|Diesels||Anxiety, depression, stress|
|Grapefruit||Depression – but not effective for anxiety|
|Medicine Man (also called White Rhino)||General anti-anxiety/mood elevation, counter-acts lack of hunger associated with chemo treatment, excellent for pain control & neuropathy pain management|
|Northern Lights||Anxiety, long-term chemo fatigue, moderate pain relief (may give a relaxing “buzz”)|
|RomSpice||Highly effective for pain associated with MS|
|Romulan||Muscle relaxant, painkiller, sleep aid|
|Slow Train||Back pain|
|Trainwreck||Anti-anxiety, induces desire for snacking, pain relief (may induce higher level of activity, and elevate heart rate.)|
|White Widow||Helps with symptoms of depression and may lessen anxiety|
|White Rhino (also called Medicine Man)||General anti-anxiety/mood elevation, counter-acts lack of hunger associated with chemo treatment, excellent for pain control & neuropathy pain management|
If you find it easier to get an overall guide by symptom, we have provided the following chart:
|Alert, Cerebral||AK-47, also Jack Herer (not discussed above)|
|Anti-depressant/Anxiety, Sleep Issues||Blue Moonshine, Catalyst, Jack Herer (none discussed above)|
|Anti-nausea||Blueberry, Diesel, Romulan, RomSpice, also Silver Haze (not discussed above)|
|Chronic Pain||Blueberry, Romulan, also Shiskeberry (not discussed above)|
|Digestive Issues||Blueberry, also Blackberry and Black Domina (not disclosed above)|
|Focus Challenges||Catalyst, also C99, Haze, Jack Herer, and Thai (not discussed above)|
|Insomnia, Emotional Stability, Social Awareness||Blueberry and Trainwreck, also Afgani, Domina (not discussed above)|
|Joint and Muscle Pain||AK-47, Blueberry, Diesel, also Hazes and White Russian (not discussed above)|
|MS Bladder Issues, Neuropathy, Spasms||Silver Haze (not discussed above)|
|MS Neuropathy Pain, Spasticity||Indicas (not discussed above)|
|MS Neuropathy Pain, Urinary Incontinence||Trainwreck, also NYCD, Sour Diesel, Super Silver Haze (these three not discussed above)|
|Nausea, Diarrhea, Cramping||Blueberry|
|Social Anxiety||Romulan, also Kushes (not discussed above)|
|Stress||Heavenly Man and Purple Kush (not discussed above)|
Before adding any of these to your care regimen, have a thorough and honest conversation with your physician about your desire to add a more “natural” approach to your symptom management.
The Difference Between Medical and Recreational Cannabis
The most obvious difference between the concoctions used for medical purposes versus those used for recreational purposes is that the derivative used for recreational purposes is intended to cause a high or to induce a mind-altering state.
The term medical marijuana is actually a misnomer. Although cannabis is used to supplement various medical regimens, there is not an actual plant called “medical marijuana” or “medical cannabis.”
The plants typically grown for treating medical symptoms are derivatives of the cannabis sativa plant bred to produce more CBD (cannabidiol) than THC (delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol).
Although there are strains of medical cannabis that are said to contain little to no THC (the hallucinogenic component in marijuana, which causes a “body high”), the production of the blends used for medical purposes is not regulated.
Without production regulation, you cannot be certain that the disclosed percentage of THC included in your medical cannabis is accurate. As a result, the marijuana you think you’re getting that is strictly created for medicinal purposes may put you in a mind-altering state.
There are two different types of plants that can be grown.
- Hemp plants
Hemp plants are typically grown for fiber and seed oil. These plants are not only used to support medical purposes but are also used in various industries. Hemp has been grown to produce fibers for ropes for thousands of years.
Hemp is also used to produce:
- Additional textiles
- Plastic alternatives
- Building materials
- Body care and cosmetics
CBD is typically extracted from the buds and flowers of the male hemp or marijuana plants. It can also be extracted from the female plants by those who have the equipment, are careful, and know how to perform the complex, special extraction process. CBD is also only one of an estimated 100 various cannabinoids (and hundreds of other molecules) found in the plant. Cannabidiol primarily works in conjunction with the CB2 receptor in the brain and results in what the industry calls a “cerebral high.”
- Drug plants
The marijuana individuals and clubs typically grow that are used to result in a “high” that people seek when using cannabis for recreational purposes.
These female cannabis plants are mostly bred for the THC component, which normally interacts with the CB1 receptor in the brain. The sugar leaves, which are coated with the component that contains THC, are coated with crystal-looking trichomes.
Spain’s Territories and Cities and How They Handle Cannabis Availability
As a whole, Spain does not have a formal medical marijuana program.
As we discussed earlier in the article, there are 17 communities and two cities in Spain, and they don’t necessarily all treat their approach to cannabis the same.
We’ve also already said that if you’re a tourist, don’t plan on having access to cannabis while you’re visiting Spain. Residents, however, should know the following about the various areas of Spain:
10 Different Ways to Use Medical Cannabis
Using medical marijuana to supplement your medical care is not the same as going to the pharmacy and picking up a bottle of tablets or capsules. There’s still a lot to be learned as to which strains your body reacts best to and for what symptoms.
That said, there are several ways to consume medical cannabis to aid your healing process. Learning to navigate these methods can be confusing so take time to discuss the best approach to your treatment with your physician
Here are nine different methods available for using medical marijuana.
There are several types of beverages for sale that have been infused with marijuana. Strict dosage is difficult with this method, but it is an alternative. Because the beverages must first go through your digestive system, results can take hours to experience.
Cannabis by itself is not said to be a pleasant taste, so it is recommended to add some sort of additive flavoring to make the experience more enjoyable.
Some beverages that are typically available for sale include:
- Bottled waters
This is an advanced method that should only be used by those who are experienced consumers of medical cannabis – it can be dangerous if not done correctly. Dabbing is a very popular method because it is said to deliver results almost immediately.
Individuals have reported instantaneous relief from extreme pain or nausea. It is said that dabbing delivers a very concentrated dose to the brain within seconds.
To perform this process, a “cannabis dab” is placed on a metal or glass surface that has been heated to a high temperature with a lighter or a blow torch. The cannabis dab vaporizes on contact, and the user inhales the vapor.
It’s important to note that inhaling very hot air can damage the mucous linings in your throat, lungs, and nose.
This is probably the easiest method but can also result in an overdose. Because the edibles must go through the entire digestive process before entering the bloodstream, it can take between 30 minutes and several hours before you being to feel the relief.
Due to the delay in absorption and effect, it is easy to use more than you intended resulting in an unanticipated high.
Edibles come in several different forms. Brownies are the stereotypical technique associated with this method, but there are now also cookies, crackers, chocolate bars, ice cream, chews, and lollipops. They reportedly taste great, so make this a more enjoyable way to manage your symptoms.
Ingesting Fresh Cannabis
Juicing is a very popular way to get various nutrients. Including several cannabis leaves in your daily smoothie is a viable option for incorporating medical cannabis into your routine.
Mixing your cannabis with other fruits and vegetables may also make it more palatable. This method also requires a large amount of cannabis (about 15 leaves per day and some buds).
For you to get the optimal benefit, the smoothie must be ingested as soon as it has been blended. This process, too, will take a long time to take effect, as like edibles, it has to go through your digestive system before it gets into your bloodstream.
Marijuana such a marvelous plant, with many benefits too, but for those who don’t smoke as often or maybe are new to smoking are probably asking….Read more…
This is probably the most commonly known method, but also the least healthy. Smoking marijuana can result in throat and lung damage.
The dosage is most consistent when it is smoked in a pipe form rather than in a cigarette because the second-hand smoke that carries the plant’s medicinal properties is captured and delivered back to the individual smoking.
Hey, you asked. Medical cannabis can be taken in suppository form, which needs to be refrigerated. The results are quick relief from symptoms as the colon quickly absorbs the active ingredients.
These are typically available in two strengths and can even be cut in half to reduce the overall dosage. This is a good option for those who have trouble swallowing, can’t stand the taste, or don’t want to subject themselves to smoking.
The positive of this method is that it isn’t nearly as tempting for children or teenagers who tend to be curious about marijuana.
A tincture is usually a mixture of alcohol or glycerin, oil, and cannabinoid extracts, and it is much easier to control your dosage. It is usually dispensed in small doses – a couple of drops from a dropper – under your tongue.
Tinctures are typically created by first soaking the cannabis in a water and alcohol mixture for about six weeks – at a minimum.
Tinctures that are not added to food, but are placed under the tongue, as recommended, are fast-acting, and effects can be felt right away.
Topicals and Transdermal Patches
Topicals are applied directly to your skin. There are several different forms available:
Topicals aren’t effective for conditions such as epilepsy and glaucoma.
Transdermal patches are similar in concept to nicotine patches and are a great option if you don’t want to worry about smoking or any of the other options.
To use a cannabis patch, you place it on a hairless part of your body (inside of your arm or above your ankle or on your foot.) The patch is based on a time-release method of delivery of medical cannabis.
A positive of either of these methods is that the entirety of the dosage can be absorbed through the skin, while other methods lose some of their properties in the delivery method. If you experience skin irritation with either method, try the other.
Vaporizing (or Vaping)
This is very similar to smoking except that the result is that you are not ingesting the high heat associated with traditional smoking.
This process was believed to be less harsh on the lungs than smoking. However, studies are emerging which show that vaping can result in serious lung damage, and in some cases, even death.
This article from the Radiological Association of America (RSNA) discusses the dangers associated with vaping of any sort. As of early 2019, vaping is the least healthy way of ingesting medical cannabis.
The actual health benefits associated with cannabis are still being studied, and there are questions as to whether there is an actual healing benefit or if it is simply a placebo effect because people expect it to work.
Possible Benefits of Using Medical Marijuana
Medical cannabis affects the neurotransmitters that communicate with our nervous system and send messages to our brains.
It makes sense, then, that neurotransmitters are also commonly known as the brain and body’s chemical messengers. They are the molecules that travel throughout our bodies to aid our nervous system in communicating important information. They can, directly and indirectly, influence our behavior.
Here are a few potential benefits of using medical cannabis:
Reduces inflammation and helps relieve chronic pain
Inflammation is one of the most common pain producers. The ability to naturally reduce inflammation rather than taking chemicals that could impact your internal organs could be appealing for some.
Medical cannabis may also help with relieving neuropathic pain, relieving pain from muscle spasms, reducing chemotherapy pain, and reducing migraines.
Relieves nausea and vomiting
One of the terrible side effects of chemo is horrific nausea. Medical marijuana may help ease this symptom and might even create a modicum of hunger.
Medical cannabis has been used successfully to help PTSD patients get restful sleep and escape the nightmares that plague and haunt them.
Helps relieve seizures
For those who experience chronic seizures, or care for someone who does, this is a viable treatment that can lessen the number and frequency of seizures a loved one experiences.
Inhibits tumor growth and may prevent cancer
These are bold claims. Studies done in Spain noted that THC administered to mice with human cancer tumors caused cancer cells in the brain to die. Similar results were observed when two human patients were treated with this process as well.
Potential Side Effects from Using Cannabis – Medical or Otherwise
As we begin discussing this topic, it’s important to emphasize the different people may experience different reactions to marijuana use. The type of cannabis used, and the method used to deliver it to your system will result in different side effects for different users.
We share this information with you so you will be fully informed and not caught off-guard should you experience any of these possible side effects.
Before adding medical cannabis to your medical routine, talk to your physician to make sure there aren’t any known negative interactions with medications you already take.
Some of these side effects, particularly paranoia, anxiety, or panic attacks, are in direct proportion to taking large doses (also referred to as overdosing) of medical marijuana not recommended by your doctor.
Potential Mental or Psychotropic Side Effects
Although you may be using medical cannabis to help reduce various emotional and/or mental symptoms, it may result in some associated side effects. Some include:
- Anxiety and uneasiness
- Heightened sensory perception
- Short-term memory loss
Potential Physical Side Effects
Just as pharmaceutical prescriptions can result in physical side effects, the use of medical cannabis can too. Some of these may be:
- Drowsiness and impaired drowsiness
- Impaired balance
- Increased heart rate
- Red eyes
- Respiratory issues
- Slower reaction time
- Slurred speech
- Thirst and dry mouth
- Urinary retention
Although Spain has relaxed its laws regarding private cannabis use, whether medicinal or recreational, there are still strong fines and jail time associated with purchasing, carrying, transporting, or smoking it in public.
Residents and Tourists have the ability to join one of more than 700 members-only cannabis clubs, but first, require an invitation to join the club.
And remember, if you’re going to grow your own plants, it is best if they aren’t visible to anyone outside of your home. In addition, make sure you only grow enough for your own personal use. Any more than that could land you in trouble with the law.
Even the most seasoned smoker occasionally gets a little too high. It’s that pivotal moment when someone hands you a brownie, tells you to eat only half, but you, in all your overt confidence, eat the whole thing….Read more…