Legalization of marijuana: the Spanish Socialist Party votes against the legalization of cannabis for recreational purposes | Spain

The issue of legalizing marijuana has exposed divisions within the Spanish government, which is led by a centre-left coalition of the Socialist Party (PSOE) and its junior partner Unidas Podemos. The PSOE voted against a proposal to legalize cannabis for recreational use on Tuesday, even if it means aligning itself with the conservative People’s Party (PP) and the far-right Vox, also opposed to the measure. Thanks to the improbable agreement between these groups, the proposal was rejected by an overwhelming majority, with 75 votes in favor, 263 against and 9 abstentions.

The PSOE is only willing to consider legalizing marijuana for medical purposes, a matter that is expected to be considered by a newly formed sub-committee of the lower house of parliament, the Congress of Deputies. When it comes to the decriminalization of recreational cannabis, the PSOE’s objection on Tuesday was almost as adamant as that of the right. “It’s not a matter of right or left, it’s a matter of public health,” PSOE MP Daniel Vicente told Congress, adding, “We are a government party.”

The proposal to legalize marijuana for recreational purposes was put forward by the left-wing group Más País, led by Íñigo Errejón. “It’s about regulating what is already normal on the streets,” Errejón told Congress. “I don’t know what country you live in, but I know the country I live in, and in that country anyone who wants to use marijuana does, even though it’s banned.”

The leader of Más País argued that banning marijuana only leads to “more consumption, more crime and more damage to health”, while legalizing the drug would remove the company “from hands of the mafias”. By legalizing it, he argued, the sale of marijuana would be subject to health controls, and Spain would be fostering highly lucrative legal economic activity in countries like Canada, where it has been legal since 2018. The measure, he cited a report by the Autonomous University of Barcelona, ​​which estimated that legalizing marijuana could create up to 100,000 jobs given a business volume of 3.3 billion euros. The leader of Más País accused the opponents of the initiative, in particular the PSOE, of “hypocrisy”.

Más País leader Iñigo Errejón (g) and deputy Inés Sabanés, from the same party, in Congress on Tuesday.FERNANDO VILLAR (EFE)

The proposal was supported on Tuesday by left-wing and regional groups, including Unidas Podemos, the Basque party EH Bildu, the Canarian Coalition (CC), the Galician Nationalist Bloc (BNG) and the pro-Catalan independence parties of the Catalan Republican Left. (ERC), Junts per Catalunya (Together for Catalonia) and the Popular Unity Candidacy (CUP). Unidas Podemos and the ERC also announced similar marijuana legalization proposals to be presented to Congress. The centre-right Ciudadanos (Citizens), which voted in favor of the initiative, accused left-wing parties of “racing” to be the first to propose the idea, a criticism echoed by the Basque Nationalist Party ( PNV), who abstained.

The PSOE’s decision to vote against legalizing marijuana not only put it at odds with its coalition partner, but also with its allies in parliament. As the leader of a minority government, Spain’s PSOE Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez needs the support of other parties to pass key laws, such as the budget. ERC votes, for example, were key to approving the 2020 budget, as well as swearing in Sánchez as prime minister.

Despite this, the PSOE has been adamant in its rejection of socialist lawmaker Vicente’s proposal criticizing Errejón for wanting to legalize a drug with potentially harmful psychological effects, while demanding better public policies to protect mental health. Right-wing parties in Congress also criticized the measure. “Consuming drugs is neither a fundamental right nor a freedom,” said PP MP Elvira Velasco, while Vox MP Juan Luis Steegmann, a doctor by profession, described the negative effects of cannabis use on health. “Instead of Más País, you should call yourself Más Hachís [more hashish]“, he joked.

Divisions in the coalition government were evident on Tuesday, but both parties avoided open attacks. Unidas Podemos MP Lucía Muñoz simply told the PSOE that he could not escape a debate on the issue – two more proposals on marijuana legalization are expected to be presented to Congress.

Comments are closed.