November 13th, 2020
Spain does not have an official government medical cannabis program and the prescription and commercialisation of medical cannabis are still illegal in Spain. When recently questioned about the absence of a medical cannabis program by a member of the Congress of Deputies, Josune Gorospe, a government spokesperson responded that the level of “available evidence” is “insufficient to recommend its generalised (medical) use”.
Spanish law does not state the difference between recreational and medical cannabis use. This means that if a patient needs medical cannabis that contains above 0.2% THC, they can’t acquire an official prescription (as it is not permitted for physicians to prescribe) and has forced many to purchase medical cannabis from the black market. Many patients have resorted to growing their own medical cannabis as it is technically legal, as long as it is not visible to the public.
Currently, Spain has five authorised medical cannabis companies for production purposes – four of them for exporting their products and one for clinical trials. President of the Spanish Medical Cannabis Observatory, Carola Perez is disappointed that Spanish cannabis is not available for and sold to local patients. She can see that patients in Spain observe how Spanish-grown cannabis has helped patients in other countries improve their quality of life.
The latest company to help pioneer the medical cannabis landscape in Spain is Medical Plants S.L.U. As of September 16th, 2020, the AEMPS (Spanish Drug and Healthcare Products Agency) which is attached to the Spanish Ministry of Health, authorised Spanish company, Medical Plants S.L.U to cultivate, grow and process medical cannabis flowers to obtain the necessary batches for the validation of the process of manufacturing active narcotic substances (cannabis) for medical purposes.
Medical Plants is the fully owned subsidiary of the high-tech Spanish tomato producer Cualin Quality S.L., a company with deep knowledge of agriculture, thanks to its management team with more than 25 years of experience. They grow their tomatoes within 40 hectares of state-of-the-art glass heated greenhouses in Almeria (southern Spain) – the region with the most hours of sunlight in Europe. Medical Plants will grow its medical cannabis using the same method. They will begin with a trial area by performing a partial retrofit of one of their seven greenhouses for the cultivation of three different varieties of cannabis sativa. The greenhouse section will have climate control conducive to cannabis and a blackout system. On top of the natural sunlight the cannabis will receive through the glass walls and roof of the greenhouse, it will also be fitted with artificial light. A warehouse next to the greenhouse will be turned into a space for flower processing – drying, cutting, trimming, and packaging. Cualin Quality S.L will also fund staff and all facilities needed. This facility will be able to process up to two hectares worth of cannabis and the aim is to retrofit more greenhouses in the not too distant future as European markets evolve.
Once the GMP certificate is acquired (expected during 2021), and the AEMPS have given their final approval, Medical Plants can cultivate several harvests per year. They intend to be one of the most competent and trustworthy cannabis companies in Europe producing high-quality cannabis flowers. They will also be selling their products at a competitive price due to their decreased production costs.
Medical Plants hopes that it will be easier for Spanish patients to access medical cannabis in the near future once its government approves medical use, following the trend of other European countries.
A spokesperson for Medical Plants says: “We believe that many medical uses have been proven by the scientific community and that it generates less addictive behaviour than other narcotics (like opium-based medicines). Hopefully, with a progressive government currently ruling in Spain, medical cannabis could be legalised in the medium term.”