Within Catalunya, some private cannabis social clubs take a political stance on marijuana regulation through membership in one of two ‘federations’ of cannabis associations: CatFAC and FEDCAC. These federations serve to lobby for cannabis regulation at the local, state and national level; they provide legal, advisory and consultancy services for the associations who belong to them, and help to organize cannabis conferences, debates, meetings and educational events. Each federation takes a slightly different yet competing political stance.
As of early 2017, hundreds of legal cannabis associations in Catalunya and across Spain are thriving. These private member associations – protected by Spanish constitutional law – allow cannabis growers and consumers to collectively cultivate and share marijuana among their member base. Despite Spain’s relatively progressive stance on cannabis and the plant’s widespread availability, the national debate surrounding how production and consumption of marijuana should be regulated is far from over. Consequently, substantial efforts have been undertaken in opposition of the associations’ right to exist.
In Catalunya, the main fear among skeptics is not necessarily fear of cannabis or its users, but fear of cannabis’ wider availability attracting drug tourism that could turn a city like Barcelona – already overwhelmed with standard tourism – into another weed-mecca like Amsterdam or Denver. Proponents of legal cannabis in the region support the private association system as a good compromise that deters large-scale cannabis tourism without preventing safe access for users and patients who benefit from cannabis.
CatFAC – Catalunya Federacion de Asociaciones Cannabicas
CatFAC is the Catalunya arm of the national FAC; the Federación de Asociaciones Cannábicas, an NGO (Non-Governmental Organization) that includes dozens of member organizations from across the country including cannabis associations, grow shops, seed banks and law firms. The national FAC works on a large scale, petitioning Spanish and European parliaments for more sensible drug policy and creating a body of research on different regulatory systems of cannabis around the world and the impact of those regulatory systems on their communities.
In Catalunya, twenty or more cannabis associations have joined the Catalunya branch of FAC. CatFAC organizes itself into smaller working groups, each focused on a different facet of cannabis regulation; Finances, Crops, Therapeutic, and Activism. A representative from each member association participates in a monthly assembly and the organization also has a women’s focus group which meets regularly.
CatFAC provides a variety of services to members, but also requires certain responsibilities of its participants as well. Each member association is responsible for recording their regular activity through careful bookkeeping and minutes of each of their General Assemblies. These records are monitored by an audit group which provides recommendations to clubs that are not meeting the federation’s guidelines, which are set in accordance with the current laws governing the association system.
CatFAC also petitions for more positive representation of cannabis in the media, provides legal advice and training to member groups, advises associations on reducing risk and promoting therapeutic use, shares information among members about genetics and agricultural techniques, releases a monthly newsletter and maintains a physical library of cannabis books and publications.
FEDCAC – Federacion d’Associacions Cannabiques Autorregulades de Catalunya
The Federación d’Associacions Cànnabiques Autorregulades de Catalunya is more traditional and cautious in their approach to cannabis regulation than CatFAC, stressing the importance of self-regulation of cannabis associations in their very name. The mission statement of FEDCAC talks about the need for a detailed regulatory system that overrides the current ambiguity of Spain’s legal cannabis model. They equip their member bodies with a detailed code of practice that stresses compliance with the current regulations regarding cannabis associations.
Speculatively, FEDCAC seems to have a smaller membership body than CatFAC, as they are a local organization without the same ties to national and international organizations that provide more resources and clout. Despite this, they provide many services to their dues-paying member groups including a ‘Telemedicine’ service, which provides expert medical advice to users and organizations via video conference, discounts for agronomists and other cannabis consultants, and connecting member organizations to legal and tax advisory services.
The Differences CatFAC and FEDCAC
Both federations encourage self-regulation of their member organizations in observance of their differing Codes of Practice. Each different Code of Practice promotes transparency and cooperation with the current association system, but are different in their wording and specifics. CatFAC, and by extension FAC, seem more aligned with the language and positive image of cannabis promoted by prominent cannabis activist groups around the world. Their site focuses on their past meetings, work in activism, and services the federation provides, with links provided to the group’s outlining documents. They also provide further reading links to external sources of information for many subject pages on their site.
FEDCAC’s site, on the other hand, is sparser and provides far less information on participating organizations and the past work and meetings of the federation. The language used on the site highlights reducing-risk, protecting user rights and compliance with the regulations of the association system.
In short, FEDCAC’s public language targets a broader audience outside of the current cannabis community and aims to have the cannabis association system normalized as a regulated and accepted part of society. CatFAC’s language targets those already aligned with the views of cannabis activism and focuses on the need for safe access to cannabis and public education.
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