The trial that is seen today in the City of Justice in Malaga where the prosecutor asks for four years in prison for growing marijuana for Fernanda de la Figuera, 76, the oldest veteran activist in Spain in favor of the legalization of cannabis, has turned on again more and more active and nourished cannabis associative movement of our country, formed by about a thousand entities that complain about the judicial and police treatment that receives their cause.
The Confederation of Cannabis Associations (CONFAC), one of the main organizations in the sector, sees in these legal proceedings a "political attack" on the associative movement that works and defends the cultivation of marijuana for self-consumption, and, after that, lack of interest in undertaking regulation and end the helplessness suffered by hundreds of people who have to face trials of those who do not know if they will go to prison, paying large fines or return home absolved of all charges.
Fernanda de la Figuera managed the crop to supply a medicinal association of more than a hundred members
The sword of Damocles that hangs over these people is Article 368 of the Criminal Code, which, among other things, establishes as a crime against public health the cultivation of toxic drugs or narcotic substances, and punishes with penalties of three to six years of prison. And although the courts may impose a lower penalty in light of the limited nature of the act and the personal circumstances of the accused, can also estimate aggravating circumstances depending on certain circumstances, such as the amount apprehended is greater than 10 kilos, as has happened to Fernanda de la Figuera, who managed the crop to supply an association for medicinal purposes of more than a hundred members.
Therefore, the interpretation of judges and prosecutors of article 368 and following of the Penal Code (369 and 370) will depend to a large extent on the fate of those who cultivate cannabis, even if only for consumption. They may go to trial or be dismissed any judicial proceedings against them, they may be sentenced to a greater or lesser penalty, or, simply, they may be acquitted. "There is no general regulation for this issue, so each judge interprets jurisprudence as he understands and that creates a lot of helplessness ", laments Beatriz Macho, legal advisor of CONFAC.
"We depend a lot on what the public ministry decides," which is the only one that presents accusations in this type of procedure, explains Beatriz Macho, who considers that there is a "strategy" mounted from the State Attorney General's Office to "end the associationism" of cannabis users in Spain.
Notable increase in seizures
The latest Statistical Yearbook of the Ministry of the Interior shows that seizures of cannabis plants increased by 55.2% in 2017, to exceed 1.12 million, and 12.2% of seeds, interventions that include, as reflected in the memory itself, from small-scale crops for self-consumption to large plantations for traffic.
The same Inland Statistical Yearbook reveals that 69% of the sanctions imposed for infractions of the Organic Law of Protection of Citizen Security, popularly known as the Gag Law, correspond to consumption or possession of drugs on public roads or places, with an amount that reaches 103.5 million euros, which, according to Macho, suggests the clear collection nature of this rule at the expense of consumers of substances such as the cannabis
Seizures of cannabis plants increased by 55.2% in 2017, to over 1.12 million, and 12.2% of seizures, according to the Statistical Yearbook
The Action Group for the Legalization of Cannabis in Spain (GALCE), less numerous than CONFAC but very combative, does not see only political interests, also appreciates the economic. Its president, Paco Mascaraque, considers that there is a "double yardstick": one for large companies authorized by the Government to grow cannabis plants with different purposes, and another for small growers, such as Fernanda de la Figuera, He faces a four-year prison sentence, "a very bloody case," he stresses.
In response to a parliamentary question from the Unidos-Podemos group, the Ministry of Health, Consumption and Social Welfare points out that the Spanish Agency for Medicines and Health Products granted until the end of 2018 a total of eight authorizations to grow cannabis sativa to seven entities, five for research purposes, two for medicinal purposes and one with "exclusively didactic and educational" objectives at the Ethnographic Park Pirámides de Güimar, in Tenerife.
Mascaraque says to ignore the criteria with which these authorizations are granted while thousands of small crops in all of Spain remain illegal. "We think it is hypocritical, that we are acting with double standards because there are many millions of euros at stake ". The president of GALCE expressly cites the case of multimillionaire Juan Abelló, who has entered into this business after joining with a British investment fund owner of Alcaliber, one of the entities to which the Spanish Medicines Agency has given a license for the production and manufacture of cannabis.
"It is an absolute nonsense that is allowed at the gates of the institutes there is a tobacconist, a bar or a betting place," critic Paco Mascaraque
Both GALCE and CONFAC demand that there be a regulation of this activity throughout Spain for all those who are dedicated to it, regardless of the size of the operation. "We do not want to be criminals, we want there to be a viable way for consumption and cannabis self-cultivation in the safest way possible, "says Beatriz Macho For Paco Mascaraque, it is an absolute nonsense that the activity of cannabis users' clubs has not yet been properly regulated, and, for example, that at the gates of the institutes there is stalking a tobacconist, a bar and a betting shop.
The situation in Spain is still stagnant, complains the associative movement, while in other countries of Europe and America, such as the Netherlands, Canada, the United States, Mexico and Uruguay, have already taken important steps for the legalization of the cultivation and consumption of cannabis. "The PSOE, like the PP, is prohibitionist. The only one that has proposed something in this regard in recent years is Unidos-Podemos, "says Mascaraque.
The most veteran activist in the struggle to legalize cannabis in Spain, Fernanda de la Figuera, who is about to turn 76, faces a trial today in which the prosecutor asks for four years in jail for growing and distributing marijuana. The facts go back to 2014, when the Civil Guard requisitioned the plants of his orchard with which they were supplied more than a hundred members of a cannabis association of women who, fundamentally, used the fruits of that crop to alleviate diseases such as cancer, osteoarthritis or fibromyalgia.
Members of that organization, some from other parts of Spain, will accompany Fernanda de la Figuera in the Criminal Court 5 of the City of Justice of Málaga, at the in addition to the dozens of supports that he is receiving from cannabis entities throughout the country who share their struggle and the risks that it entails.