“Keep it in the closed bag until you get home in case the police stop you.” The friendly clerk of a cannabis store in the heart of Valencia, after inserting the purchase receipt in the bag, warns the customer about the precautions to take after acquiring CBD buds. Cannabidiol is a non-psychoactive compound in marijuana with a THC percentage (Tetrahydrocannabinol, the psychoactive principle of the plant) of 0.2%, below the threshold set by law for the substance to be considered illegal.
The CBD market continues to grow among the sick and recreational consumers, including tourists. The customer profile is very broad, according to the shop assistant, who prefers to speak under anonymity: “There are people who use it as a muscle relaxant, against insomnia or to rest after work, and with a fairly wide age range.” In just ten minutes, several clients enter the small establishment in search of CBD buds. They pay in cash or by card and go elsewhere with the music.
The sociologist JA confesses that until recently he did not know about the existence of Cannabidiol: “It was because of a colleague who told me about it and I was curious, the truth is that I tried it and I liked it because, when you are tired, it relaxes you a lot”. Now she consumes punctually together with her husband.
“As it is not psychoactive,” he assures, “it does not generate anxiety and the next day you wake up well. One positive thing is that you do not get crazy hunger like with grass.” “It had been a long time since I bought marijuana because in the end it is a lot of history and since CBD is legal, you go to a store, buy it and that’s it. There are quite a few distribution points, it is not very problematic and the novelty is that it no longer you feel like a criminal, “he adds.
More than the legality, the CBD is in a kind of legal limbo. While in other European countries Cannabidiol is fully established in the legal tender market, in Spain the Anti-Drug Prosecutor’s Office has insisted on persecuting growers and distributors despite the jurisprudence of the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU).
A recent pioneering ruling has determined that the CJEU ruling endorses the sale of CBD (at the heart of the matter, the defense of civil rights does not prevail but free trade between EU member states, as determined by the high court in a case on the sale in France of Cannabidiol vaporizers produced in the Czech Republic).
The judge, contradicting the position of the Public Prosecutor, ordered that the CBD flowers be returned to the owner of a cannabis store and acquitted him despite facing a request for a four-year prison sentence for an alleged crime against public health in the form of substances that do not cause serious damage to health. In fact, the European Cannabis Observatory has accused the Spanish Prosecutor’s Office of violating community law on CBD buds.
Many walkers who come across these types of stores wonder if the buds they sell in broad daylight have the same effect as the classic joint of Mary. CBD, as this newspaper has been able to confirm, impels a slight high, much lower than that of traditional illegal marijuana, but preserving the characteristic taste and smell of cannabis. The catalog of these establishments, which are also dedicated to the sale on-line, includes numerous cannabis variants and various formats: creams, gels, incense or beer, among others.
The clientele also includes people suffering from diseases of various kinds. A., a woman with fibromyalgia, uses CBD gels to soothe her chronic pain. “Among the brands there are very important differences in effectiveness, there are those that are practically all CBD and others that combine with arnica and other traditional products to massage areas of pain”, explains this teacher who prefers anonymity. “One of the brands has been very good for me and it has relieved the pain area for a few hours when it was due to inflammation but I have not noticed that it is much more efficient than a Voltaren,” he adds.
Jorge, owner of the Tecnogrow store in Sagunto (Valencia), denounces that “there has been persecution for a long time” and demands that the market be regulated “to do it well.” “If it comes to me legally, paying taxes and all right, who is going to think that this is not legal,” he wonders. “It is supposed to pass a series of controls and filters,” says the merchant.
CBD distributors “offer you the product in their catalog.” “I’ve been working for eight or nine years buying products in a normal way,” says Jorge, who has had a visit from the police at his establishment. “News has reached me that a lot of growshops [tiendas cannábicas] in Barcelona, ”he says.
Enrique Soler, owner of Doctor Cogollo of the passage of Doctor Serra de Valencia, also refers to police inspections in stores of his union in Castellón, Córdoba or Santander. “Half a year ago we had the visit of 14 agents of the National Police, the Local Police and the Civil Guard,” says Soler, who assures that in his two decades in the cannabis market he has always “led by example.” “We have never done anything that we should not, we always sell from an ethical point of view: to supply ourselves,” he adds.
“They dismantled our entire store from top to bottom,” recalls the owner of the establishment. “I have other businesses and they opened absolutely all the boxes for us, they were looking for CBD buds,” says Soler. An activist and businessman in the cannabis sector, who prefers to speak anonymously, has been producing CBD seeds and fiber (biodegradable and flame retardant) for a few months. “We are a slightly different case because we work with many companies outside of Spain, we make a selection of certified seed from the EU and we sell it to other countries,” says the businessman.
“In Spain”, abounds, “what is to make CBD flower is right now, not prohibited, but there have been threats from the Prosecutor’s Office saying that it cannot be and that any flowering unit of hemp is marijuana, it does not matter the levels.” Jorge, the owner of the Sagunto store, laments the legal insecurity that he claims to suffer: “You don’t know how the market is, you don’t know if this is or not.”
The businessman who produces seeds and fiber regrets that “as there is no law as such, the Prosecutor’s Office can put whatever it wants in between.” “I have eight colleagues who were going to cultivate and all eight have backed down, people do not want problems,” he assures. “Right now Seprona kicks the door and they treat you like Pablo Escobar,” criticizes the businessman, who assures that “if more than ten kilos are involved, you go to the bag at once.” “Imagine the legal uncertainty that this generates,” he warns.
The producer praises the merchants who sell CBD in their stores: “I see them as brave,” he says. “We are attacked more because we are the origin, from the earth we get this flower, in the final commercial processes, which is the sale, it seems that nothing is happening.” The businessman lists the long list of bureaucratic obligations that a CBD producer must achieve: “200 million procedures”, he sums up with a laugh.
And it also points to a curious situation. “As they do not allow you to peel the flowers, we have had to set up a mini company in Portugal, we are looking for land to be able to cultivate there with the processing plant next to it. We have to send the entire crops with pots, to cross the border, we generate wealth , employment and we register companies in Portugal, which leaves Spaniards in the lowest part of the production process of a multimillion dollar industry “, explains the activist and businessman.
The recent sentence handed down by the head of the Criminal Court number 8 of Valencia opens a door of hope to the sector. The lawyer Joan Bertomeu, from the Brotsanbert specialized office, believes that it is “a very important step because it clearly determines that CBD is not controlled, whatever part of the plant they come from.” Thus, “we can speak of products that have no effect and that, therefore, cannot be treated as narcotics.” “They are criminally irrelevant”, Bertomeu sentence.
In addition, the Valencian lawyer observes, the ruling “considers that, although the intervened flowers have 1.2% THC, when what is required of industrial hemp is a maximum threshold of 0.2%, the sentence acquits the sale of bud by 1.2% because it applies the psychoactivity index method “.
Regarding the stores that sell to the public, Bertomeu considers that they are in a “situation of insecurity”: “There are interventions in this type of establishments under the pretext of possible administrative infractions that are often not clear by the authorities, who do not they know very well how to act. ” “The result of the procedures is also uncertain because there is no regulatory framework and, in the end, the own restriction of narcotics is being applied to products that are innocuous and that the World Health Organization considers that they should not be controlled.”
In the midst of this kind of limbo, stores continue to sell CBD to their ever-growing clientele. The clerk at the central establishment in the El Carme neighborhood says goodbye to the buyer before serving some young people looking for vaporizers. “Enjoy it, good weekend.”