The issue of drugs is a very disscused topic in Spain today. Both young people and adults face situations in their daily lives that involve drugs. In this case, we are going to make a complete analysis about the consumption of cannabinoid substances in our country.
Let’s begin with the data. It is known that in Spain the consumption of this type of substances is quite widespread. According to the Ministry of Health, cannabis use in Spain has risen compared to previous years. In the Survey on Alcohol and other Drugs in Spain (EDADES) conducted in 2013, 6.6% of those surveyed said they had used cannabis in the last month. In the last survey conducted, however, it was 7.3%, that is, some 2.2 million people between 15 and 64 years old had tried cannabis in the last month. In addition, 2.1% say they consume it daily. According to these surveys, it was finally calculated that around 322,000 people consume cannabis on a regular basis in Spain. However, within this consumption, the Spanish Observatory of Medicinal Cannabis (OEDCM) estimates that between 50,000 and 100,000 people consume cannabis for therapeutic and non-recreational purposes.
Turning now to comparisons, Spain is at the top of the European Union’s drug consumption lists. In the specific case of cannabis, Spain ranks fourth in the rate of consumption, with a figure of 17.1%. We are behind France (21.5%), Italy (20.7%) and Czech Republic (19.4%), but above the average rate of the EU, which is 14.1%.
But, who smokes marijuana in Spain? What is the profile of consumers? That is something very difficult to specify, since there are cannabis users of very different profiles. However, you can show consumption figures according to ages. The latest polls have shown that cannabis use among 15 and 17-year-olds is much higher than among those over 35. 12.6% of the youngest, and still underage, consume marijuana, while only the 5.5% of those over 35 do so. This shows that the new generations begin to consume much earlier. In fact, the average age of beginning of consumption is 16.5 years. The kids smoke their first joint faster and faster.
These latest data are explained under the premise that younger generations have lost consciousness of the harmfulness of these drugs. According to the director of Proyecto Hombre, «Theres’ an urban legend that believes that tobacco is more harmful than cannabis. The perception of risk is null, and it is increasingly urgent to protect minors. » The lack of training, awareness and risk make young people only perceive the recreational aspect of this drug, which makes consumption for them not something serious or harmful.
This perception is also due to the little awareness that young people have of the long-term damages. At first nothing happens by smoking a joint with your friends and have a good time, but over time come addictions, mood swings, memory problems, etc. The numbers speak for themselves. In the association against drug addiction Proyecto Hombre have treated over the last year to more than 2,000 dependents of cannabis. In addition, there are studies that have shown that the abuse of these substances can cause serious alterations of the nervous system and even the development of schizophrenia. One of the studies published in the scientific journal Frontiers in Pharmacology ensures that these disorders can really occur in the face of abuse of these substances, and that young people are especially vulnerable because their nervous system is still growing.
Leaving aside the data, let’s move on to the laws. Exactly, what are the laws that regularize the consumption of marijuana in Spain? Actually, the trade, cultivation and consumption of marijuana is not regularized in our country. In fact, consumption, cultivation, possession and purchase are illegal in Spain. However, there is a «legal loophole». This gap is that possession, cultivation and consumption can be carried out in the private and non-profit sector. This is not legal but neither is it penalized.
Today, with the arrival of the Law for the Protection of Citizen Security, better known as the ‘Gag Law’, Law 17/1967 on Narcotics was completed. Before consumption was considered unlawful if it was not prescribed by a doctor. Now, consuming and possessing marijuana on public roads is punishable, in any case. In addition, the cultivation of marijuana for profit is punishable by between 1 and 6 years in prison. There are also fines of between 601 and 10,400 euros for those who consume or carry marijuana on public roads and for those who have plants in view from the street if they grow for self-consumption.
These laws, however, have not stopped consumption or trade. Spain is still one of the main drug ports in Europe due to its location, and although the trafficking routes have been distributed to other countries, Spanish ports continue to receive large shipments of drugs every year. This is also compounded by the fact that some countries and states are regularizing recreational consumption. This has made it possible to innovate in a much simpler way in all the procedures: cultivation, distribution, sale, development of new products, etc. Not all of these innovations can be acquired by the cannabis market in Spain, but many do, and that makes production increase and improve so that traffic and consumption also do so. In addition, these innovations have led to the development of new products such as liquid solutions, edible articles or substances with greater power, which increases the facilities and options for consumption even more.
As for the future of cannabinoid substances, we do not know how their consumption will evolve, but we do know how their regularization will. Although it is not even close to something real, the Unidos Podemos party has presented a proposal to the congress for the regularization of marijuana consumption, which will be shown in greater detail in the first months of 2019.
Being in favor or not of the regularization of marijuana is not as relevant as being aware that in Spain it is a subject that must be treated broadly and carefully. The fact that there is so much consumption from so early, so much lack of conscience and such a large black market raises several questions about whether regularization would be a possible solution. Unfortunately nobody knows what the future will be in terms of these substances. What we do know is that you have to increase drug education to the youngest ones so that they are aware of what they consume and thus make more accurate decisions