As we have explained in previous blogs, Spain’s uniquely confusing cannabis laws have opened up a legal grey area, within which the country’s famous cannabis social clubs (CSCs) have found space to operate. At the same time, a lack of clear legislation means that the rights of CSC members – and cannabis users in general – are largely unprotected, and must continually be fought for. At the forefront of this fight is Patty Amiguet, the current president of the Catalan Federation of Cannabis Associations (CatFAC), spokeswoman for the National Federation of Cannabis Associations (ConFAC), and founding member of several woman-led activist organisations, including the National Network of Antiprohibition Women (REMA) and Mujeres Cannábicas.
With so many roles and responsibilities, Amiguet is one of the most active figures within the Spanish cannabis scene, yet recently took a few minutes out from her busy schedule for a catch-up with Seedsman.
Patty Amiguet – Fighting For Change
Spain’s current coalition government contains a left-wing party called Podemos, which has publicly stated its support for the legal regulation of cannabis and CSCs. The possibility of some sort of legislation being introduced has therefore never been higher, which means it’s a very busy time for ConFAC and Patty Amiguet.
“There’s a rumour that Podemos is going to propose a new law in September,” she told Seedsman. “So we’ve been producing loads of documents and liaising with politicians in order to make certain arguments about what should be included in the law regarding CSCs.”
“Our position is that it should include the right to personal use, home-growing and collective cultivation – in the form of the associations. But we suspect that the government will require all cannabis to be produced by the state itself,” she says.
Having moved from Barcelona to Madrid in order to be closer to the political front line, Amiguet says she is now giving talks and holding meetings like never before, bringing the concerns of CSCs and cannabis users to the attention of the country’s lawmakers. If and when legal regulation does occur in Spain, Patty Amiguet will be largely to thank.
Cannabis And Women’s Rights
Aside from influencing national cannabis policy, Amiguet is also a leading figure in the campaign to protect the rights of female cannabis users. After opening the Pachamama CSC in Barcelona in 2011 and being raided by the police two years later, she was forced to attend her own trial while pregnant, and experienced first-hand the way in which women and mothers who use cannabis are treated by the authorities.
“At the end of the day, my personal experiences have driven me to get involved with this cause,” she says. “Here in Spain, the protocols for pregnant women and mothers go too far, regardless of the substance you may be using.” According to Amiguet, these protocols are designed simply to penalise drug use, and “don’t focus on the real issue, which is the health of the mother and her baby.”
Through organisations like REMA and Mujeres Cannábicas, Amiguet has helped to create a support network for women looking for information and understanding, while at the same time pushing for a change to the current protocols.
“First and foremost, we offer women a safety net. Because most women don’t want to tell their doctor that they use cannabis, because they know how they will be treated. This puts them and – if they are pregnant – their baby at greater risk.”
“For this reason, many women come to us saying all they want is some information and to know that they aren’t alone. For instance, they may have found that smoking takes away their morning sickness, and would like to hear from others with the same experience so they can learn about the safest and most effective modes of administration.”
“They don’t get any help from the health system, but instead find it in a women’s support network like REMA.”
While the COVID pandemic may have brought a temporary halt to REMA’s activities, the organisation continues to work with the government, academic institutions and women from all walks of life in order to shine a light on the needs of women who use cannabis. For instance, in collaboration with Barcelona’s Hospital del Mar, the group recently participated in a study with the aim of opening the debate about the way in which these needs are being met – or not, as the case may be.
Based on the outcome of this study, REMA now hopes to see certain changes to the protocols regarding the treatment of women who use cannabis, and continues to work with a network of anthropologists, sociologists and health workers in order to try and make this happen.
REMA also participated in the production of a totally kick-ass documentary called Cannábicas, highlighting the experiences of women who use cannabis.