Basque Country to Consider Legalizing and Regulating Cultivation, Sale, and Consumption of Cannabis in 2012

Basque Country to Consider Legalizing and Regulating Cultivation, Sale, and Consumption of Cannabis in 2012
El País: Euskadi plantea regular el “cultivo, la venta y el consumo” de cannabis en 2012
Ania Elorza reporting from Vitoria, Basque Country, Spain December 12, 2011

Next year, Euskadi (the Basque Country) will consider a bill amending the addictive substances law to create a regulatory apparatus for the “cultivation, sale, and consumption” of cannabis. A draft is being prepared now, and it is expected to come before the Basque Legislature in the first months of 2012. The announcement was made by Vice Councilor of Health Jesús María Fernández during a press conference this morning presenting the sixth anti-addiction plan.

“It’s better to bring order than to prohibit,” said the Vice Director, who supports regularizing practices that are “already consolidated.” “There is already a normative frame,” shared Councilor Rafael Bengoa, who has made legal pleas for the consumption of cannabis in a responsible and self-regulating way, with all information about the consequences given, insisting that “we do not want to be prohibitionists.” Although the details of the new regulations have not been decided, “technical and juridical studies” are being done ahead of the text itself.

The consumption and possession of cannabis are prohibited in the Penal Code and Civil Security Law. Official spokesmen for the Basque Health Department qualify that the new regulation plan is an attempt to open a debate with associations in favor of such consumption and “the expression of their rights.”

Fernández has also assured that the tobacco consumption plan has areas in which “more legislation must be done”, for example smoking in closed areas with minors or sports fields with open air. In short, the Ministry of Health wants to adopt the proposal the Basque government realized in its current anti-tobacco law, which in January will complete one year in effect. The norm became less strict during parliamentary procedure, and some items were stopped cold, like a probition against smoking in a car with minors inside it. For the moment, Health favors raising societal awareness through the sixth addiction plan so smokers will avoid these harmful practices motu proprio (of their own initiative).

The plan, which will pass the Government Council tomorrow, also takes action to prevent and treat compulsive gambling, which affects 2% of the Basque population, and addictions to new technology. After extolling the results that the Euskadi anti-tobacco law has had, Bengoa called attention to “young alcoholics”: “we are still behind in that area.”

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