José María Alonso Viña - President of the Medicinal Cannabis Association of Fuerteventura (ACMEFUER)
"Our activity can create serious employment"
For those who didn't read our interview concerning this association in 2016, ACMEFUER is an association for cannabis that was created by a group of people who have the same interest, which is why they got together and share a recreational or medicinal use of this plant.Its president, José María Alonso, explained to us the business side of those associations, which he believes can create employment and be a model regarding tax payments.
Please, tell us...
Since 2010, when I started managing this association, we have ensured to be a model as a business amongst Canarian associations. We have demonstrated that we can be officially correct within the legality that is granted to us, as well as pay our taxes and other obligations, like any other business. We want to show that our activity can be beneficial for the creation of serious employment.
" In Spain, you cannot go outside with any type of unauthorised product. Although there is an unwritten law that gives us a bit of leeway, in case of a problem, it is worthless as it hasn't been voted. "
Are you still walking on that legal tightrope as you were a few years ago?
Yes, we are, the police can still intervene at any time and take away everything if they so wish. If it was to happen, it would be the fifth time and it hasn't happened since 2014. We went to court and we are on summary trial, which means that we are not outside the law nor within the law either. We are fighting to demonstrate that we are within the law and that we can help society. For example, since 2013 we have never had less than 15 employees registered with Social Security and we have always fulfilled all our obligations as a business.
Is this association only located in Corralejo?
We are also in Puerto del Rosario, which was the first venue, but we had so many members that we decided to open also in Corralejo as it was creating additional travelling costs and time for members. Slowly, we managed to invest in the purchase of the Association's venue. Everything we do is controlled by the tax office and Social Security, which means that we should be doing well. We have actually received a letter from those two organisations confirming that we are a model business. But another department could decide suddenly that we are not within the law and close us down. Or that we can't insure anyone, or pay taxes or work as a business, or on the contrary that we are within the law. I am aware that 80% of associations are not up to date with their tax payments, but we don't fall into that category.
Do you still have the same problem with transporting the product?
Yes, we do. It can be consumed onsite but it can’t be transported, the problem is possession.
But for cases where consumption has been prescribed as a medicine, what happens? Both for smoking and products such as creams, oils, etc., that are used to relieve the effects of some diseases, what happens then?
For this type of consumption, you have to be a member, but in cases of therapy with a prescription, it is enough to supply it, but there can be problems with transport. In Spain, you cannot go outside with any type of unauthorised product. Although there is an unwritten law that gives us a bit of leeway, in case of a problem, it is worthless as it hasn't been voted. This is what we want to sort out.
Has it really got effects against pain?
Yes, it does, we create really good oils that don't have side effects such as morphine and that are a lot more affordable. The problem is that it has to be applied here. It is the same with people who smoke, they have to adapt to the centre's timetables which isn't always convenient. It is illogical because it is permitted to consume it but not to grow it or transport it. Within our premises, it is legal, but it has to get here somehow...
Did you not present an amendment to the Senate?
We presented a new amendment to the Senate, but in truth, they are not interested... You can see what is going to happen and at the moment under the pretext of medicinal marijuana which is hemp, Juan Carlos Abelló, as well as Bob Marley's son and many people with money are purchasing large plots of land in Spain. In Parque Holandés, they already have 300.000 m. The problem is that hemp doesn't contain THC, it only contains CBD and some shops and locations all over Europe already sell it like tobacco. It doesn't get you high, but it is an introduction to marijuana in an uncontrolled manner and it is only a placebo.
But what you produce in your laboratory is a placebo as well, isn't it?
In our body, we have 21 types of cannabis receptors and their main function is to help the body absorb some medicines during very serious treatments. It stops vomiting, diarrhoea and side effects that some very aggressive treatments can have and it helps develop the body's immune system.