Associative cultivation: A way to reduce harm and fight for rights

Cannabis associations are a way to guarantee access of cannabis to patients or recreational users. Many countries have this dynamic in the gray area of their cannabis regulations. Want to hear more about it?

The clubs in Spain and Uruguay, and even Brazilian associations like Abrace Esperança and Apepi, are examples of how the population can find ways to come together and help each other through what is called associative cultivation. In some places, they are allowed, in others, they occur through loopholes in local legislation. Here in Brazil, they are the frontlines of  the fight for the regulation of cannabis, both medicinal and recreational.

But what exactly is it and how does associative cultivation happen? In this post, we will tell you a little more about it!

What is associative cultivation?

Associative cultivation is done through associations or clubs, usually non-profit organizations, where cannabis is used for therapeutic or recreational purposes among its members, in a shared way, paying a monthly fee. They may work differently depending on the country and its legislation. In Spain, for example, to be legally constituted, the association must be registered in the regional register of associations, and each province establishes basic rules to be complied with.

Here in Brazil, one such association is the Association for Support to Research and Medicinal Cannabis Patients – Apepi. Last week, she was given the legal authorization to plant the cannabis needed to produce the oil that associated patients need to treat epileptic seizures. What we can say is that the association is a group of people who come together to have access to quality cannabis, without having to grow their own at home.

Cannabis movement
Cannabis movement

And why is this important?

Cultivation associations are immensely important and provide unique support to users, especially those who seek cannabis in a therapeutic way – but not just them. Associative cultivation:

  • Removes the users from the environment of crime, drug trafficking and it becomes safer way to get their cannabis;

  • From the point of view of consumption itself, quality control does not exist in the illegal market. Brazilian cannabis, under prohibition, is smuggled, and can get rotten, with the smell of ammonia, mold, and poor quality in general. In a regulated market, this would not be on the shelves;

  • Brick weed and trafficked cannabis loses its potency and original cannabinoid profile due to incorrect storage – which can lead the user to need more cannabis to have a satisfactory result;

  • A large part of imported medicines, based on cannabis, arrive in Brazil at a cost of up to three thousand reais. Not all patients and their families are able to afford them;

Cannabis associations, therefore, have the power to support the user, take him out of a context where he can be seen as a criminal, and help him get his cannabis with greater safety and quality. This type of cultivation is also a Harm Reduction for all these reasons that we mentioned: in substance, in access and in right. After all, those who need our plant also cannot expose themselves to external danger, or to consume something that is not good for their body.

How they work

As we already mentioned, each country has different regulations regarding cannabis clubs and associations. Here, we will show what we know about these institutions in Spain, Uruguay, and here in Brazil:

Clubs and associations in Spain

Associations are legally supported, but the cultivation and trafficking of cannabis consumed in its interior is still in the grey area. People can only consume the substance within the association and need a membership card, which can only be obtained by being referred by another member. The problem is that any user caught transporting cannabis from the club to their home can be punished with administrative sanctions (usually in the form of fines) or worse.

There are many regulatory shortcomings that are not so positive in this context. In the beginning, these associations were more focused on therapeutic consumption. Today, the clubs that are more focused on profit and user experience, who look for places to taste the different varieties in a safe space. There is still no regulation on the quality of the substance, and many associations take advantage of these loopholes and do not cultivate in the “right way”, being fueled by international drug trafficking. This is a big challenge: it is something between guaranteeing your right and reducing damage, but there is also the balance, which is to be part of this network that is not always as safe as it seems in the country.

Cannabis bud and grinder
Cannabis bud and grinder

Uruguay cannabis clubs

After regulation in Uruguay, associations were one of the first ways to get legal cannabis. The rules for having a cannabis club are simple: the group must have between 15 and 45 members and in which each can receive up to 480 grams per year of the plant, all for personal use. Each club can have up to 99 plants, not necessarily owned by institutions, but by people over 18 and who live permanently in the South American country. Finally, all clubs must have a headquarters with an area dedicated to cultivation and another for the process of drying the leaves, as well as a safe place for storage and packaging.

In Uruguay, it also doesn’t matter if you are patient or use cannabis in a recreational way, as long as you have reached the age of majority. These associations and clubs have even created cannabis tourism, which attracts foreigners to experience the local strains.

Making a joint
Making a joint

Associations in Brazil

In Brazil, associations bring together patients, doctors, lawyers and campaigners for the regulation of cannabis, and produce research and studies on the therapeutic use of the plant. Many of them were created precisely by family members of patients who can benefit from the regulation of medical cannabis, who come together to achieve better conditions of access to the herb. We have already talked about Apepi, but there are also many others: the Brazilian Society of Cannabis Studies, for example, is a scientific association and has more than 60 medical professionals in its staff with more than 249 prescriptions for patients who need it. treatment with oil extracted from cannabis. Abrace is another, it has laboratories with pharmacists for the production of the cannabidiol oil, in addition to promoting periodic workshops on the necessary documentation for the patient and the doctor to have access to the medicine. It serves cases of epilepsy, Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s and cancer.

Why support these associations?

Cannabis associations, here in Brazil, are Harm Reduction agents and fight for increased access to medicinal and therapeutic cannabis. With so much research and studies that we have today, the biggest obstacle to the regulation of the substance is the lack of information and prejudice – and these groups are activists who seek to show just how beneficial cannabis can be. Supporting associative cultivation is much more than an anti-prohibitionist issue, but also a humanitarian cause.

After all, we know better than anyone what prohibitionism has brought to the countries where it still exists today.

We, at Girls In Green, love the associations, and we have already had the opportunity to visit some in Spain and Uruguay. We find it incredible that they guarantee that even people who do not have the “green finger” can be inserted in an environment where they are part of the production of their own medicine. Many of them allow the partner to help in the way he can or know, being protagonists responsible for his own consumption.

Unlike Uruguay, in Spain there is a loophole in the law that allows tourists to enter clubs. We think that there is a place like this, where we can use our herb safely. At the beginning of the year, for example, we went to Spannabis – which did not happen because of COVID-19. But we had a chance to host an Harm Reduction lecture at an amazing association called Hot Box BCN ! There are several places that promote practices other than cannabis use, such as lectures, workshops and even yoga classes!

Do you want to know more Brazilian associations?

We will post, on our Instagram, the contact of the main cannabis associations in Brazil. Keep an eye out and get in touch with the one closest to you! After all, you can also help the cause – and be helped by it.

Did you like to know a little more about associative cultivation? This concept is really incredible, and we want more and more associations to appear here in our Brazil. After all, everyone deserves to have access to better quality cannabis, with less risk and with more love involved.

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