Obtaining licenses to grow marijuana plants is a challenge even today in the 21st century when laws about growing medicinal plants are tied up with drugs from the 60s. Its clear that advances in medicine are being sought and permission is increasingly pursued when it comes to working with medicinal plants for therapeutic reasons. In fact, to this day, the Government has declared that it has received 160 requests to authorize cannabis cultivation.
Alcaliber: the first Spanish company with a license to grow marijuana
At the beginning of the year, news was released that the Agencia Española del Medicamento y Productos Sanitarios (AEMPS), dependent of the Ministry of Health, granted authorization to Alcaliber to legally cultivate cannabis on a large area measuring 1.086 acres. Alcaliber is a leading pharmacological company in the worldwide drug industry of morphine and thebaine. It also produces poppy, codeine and other drugs and narcotics destined for the pharmaceutical industry and principally for the fabrication of analgesics to treat pain and other conditions. For many years, 93% of its raw material has been exported to 67 countries, and before obtaining permission to cultivate cannabis, it already had the green light for cultivation and production of other drugs and narcotics for medicinal use.
With the dimensions of open terrain for cannabis cultivation that it has, Alcaliber could produce millions of marijuana plants in a completely legal and authorized way, with a concentration of THC up to 0.2% and for explicitly medicinal and therapeutic ends.
Given this, Alcaliber has become the first Spanish company with a license for growing legal cannabis along with production, fabrication, importation, exportation, distribution and commercialization.
It’s worth mentioning that Alcaliber has never wanted to boast this fact or receive press, and has been discreet and brief in its statements. They has commented that the company doesn’t have a communication department and that they don’t participate in interviews or announcements, referring any inquiry or request of this kind to the Ministry of Health since they don’t want to risk their license. As far as la Agencia del Medicamento (Agency of Medicine) goes, they don’t want to give out too much information about licenses having to do with drug production. In fact, Alcaliber has had permission since October of 2016, meeting criteria and legislation requirements of 1967, according to the United Nations Convention of 1961 and the Spanish order of 1963 about cultivation of medicinal plants in relation with narcotics.
On the other hand, Alcaliber associated itself with the Canadian company Canopy Growth Corporation in order to share knowledge and material about the cannabis plant, since Canopy growth sees it at strategic to have a partner on European soil. It is a distinguished union since Canopy Growth is a huge company with international stock and Alcaliber is a leader in the pharmaceutical industry and in the production of medical narcotics.
Other entities authorized to grow marijuana
In addition to the aforementioned company, there are other entities who have permission to cultivate marijuana legally for therapeutic, medicinal, research, and educational reasons: CIJA-Preservation, DJT Plant Spain S.L., Phytoplant and the Universidad Politecnica de Valencia. These are the only 5 entities in all of Spain who have operative authorization to legally cultivate marijuana on a maximum of 20.000 acres.
Phytoplant is also careful about giving out public information although their spokesperson has confirmed that their cultivation is dedicated to investigative and medicinal uses. They develop different varieties of cannabis to study chemical composition and therapeutic effects, although the information about their production is confidential, according to their arguments.
We also know that their plantations can be found in Córdoba but they don’t want to give more exact details since they want to avoid a polemic. The neighbors of that have already called the Civil Guard upon smelling the marijuana crop. However, when the agents arrive, they are able to prove that they have all of the operative permissions, and all of their papers are in order.
At the Universidad Politécnica de Valencia (UPV), they are studying the genetics of the plant in order to create a hybrid of medicinal and therapeutic cannabis, led by the Valencian company Hemp Trading, who is sponsoring the investigation. The cannabis plant contains diverse chemicals that produce different effects:
- On one hand it has THC, the psychotropic or psychedelic substance
- On the other hand it contains cannabinoids like CBD, the component of so much medical interest for the palliative effects that it produces which are so beneficial for fighting many pains and illnesses.
The object of the study is to be able to hybridize the cannabis plant so that it has a high CBD content and very low or almost non-existence levels of THC. That way we would have legal cannabis for completely therapeutic and medicinal use, keeping in mind that the maximum THC content that we can legally have in Spanish territory is 0.2%.
The Agencia Española del Medicamento y Productos Sanitarios granted permission at the same time as it demanded a detailed presentation of the project and some exhaustive regulations during the execution of the study and research: a work plan, materials and maximum security. The scientists work in a relatively small space for their crop—a grow room similar to a freezer measuring 10 square meters which is padlocked and thoroughly control insofar as how many people have access to it. They are only allowed to work with 100 samples in the growing phase without flowers and up to 20 samples in the flowering phase.
The researchers, professors at UPV are responsible for transporting waste material to the port of Valencia so that the police can destroy it. The scientists carry it in their own vehicles with the authorization of the AEMPS in hand in order to not be confused as traffickers, in the event that they are stopped by the police.
These are the only 5 entities that can be found in Spain with permission to cultivate cannabis. As you can see, laws from 50 years ago persist, blocking scientific and medical advancement when it comes to natural plants with positive and beneficial effects like cannabis.
Many patients, researchers and entities continue to ask for the review of these laws in order to update them on a national level, so that society can benefit from this time-honored plant and the medicinal properties of its cannabinoids for therapeutic use.