Grandma Marijuana Launches EU Legal Challenge

The elderly Spanish cannabis activist is taking her fight all the way to the European Court of Human Rights, and the outcome could become a landmark ruling for the EU.

The cannabis legalization movement has a new champion in the form of a 76-year-old Spanish woman from Málaga, Fernanda de la Figuera, who is appealing her nine months prison conviction for growing marijuana in the European Court of Human Rights.

However, this isn't the first time that the cannabis activist—who is infamously known as Abuela Marijuana, or "Grandma Marijuana"—has been arrested for cultivating cannabis.

In January this year de la Figuera was convicted and sentenced to nine months imprisonment by a Málaga judge, following a 2014 raid on her home in Alhaurín el Grande which uncovered approximately 180 cannabis plants.

Although prosecutors demanded a four-year prison term, the judge elected to hand her a substantially lower sentence, but this still wasn't good enough for de la Figuera, even though her sentence is below the two-year threshold that results in mandatory jail time.

Grandma Marijuana claims she has a right to cultivate cannabis under Spanish law—as it is for personal use and a cohort of patients she supplies—and she may have legal precedent on her side.

In 1995 she was similarly charged with cultivation offences after police raided her home, but the judge chose to dismiss the case on the grounds of individual liberty.

According to de la Figuera she is the "apóstol del autocultivo", which translates to the apostle of homegrown. She first began smoking the plant during the 1960s, after she found that it offered relief from the epilepsy and rheumatism symptoms that she had suffered from since childhood.

De la Figuera began cultivating her own cannabis in 1973 and during the intervening years she also founded a women's healthcare collective known as MaríasXMaría, which provides medicinal cannabis to female patients in the Andalusia region who suffer from fibromyalgia, arthritis and a variety of other conditions.

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Further complicating the case is the fact that Spain passed a law in 2015 which amended the 1983 decriminalization of cannabis, allowing Spanish citizens to engage in cultivation for the purposes of personal use.

Unfortunately, at this point it is unclear if the law will apply to de la Figuera, as she was caught with a quantity of marijuana that vastly exceeds the threshold for personal use. Additionally, there are no stipulations as to whether it can be applied retroactively to her 2014 arrest.

But despite the possibility that the courts may rule against her, Grandma Marijuana is still confident that she will beat the charges.

 "The judge in my town knows that all my life I've made my living in the real estate market, and that I don't dedicate myself to selling marijuana," del la Figuera said.

"This is not my interest, but to make known this wonderful substance, and how good it is for the health of many people."

Another factor working against de la Figuera is a decision made by Spain's Supreme court in 2018 which imposed strict conditions on "cannabis associations" such as MaríasXMaría, making it significantly harder for them to operate legally.

And while she may face an uphill battle, de la Figuera also has the backing of Málaga's ruling political coalition, Adelante Málaga, which announced its support for her late last year.

Although it is still unclear whether Grandma Marijuana will be able to triumph in the European Court of Human Rights, the outcome of her case could set an important precedent for future cannabis cultivation cases.


The UK cannabis market could be on the verge of a multi-billion-pound boom

While the majority of cannabis sold in the UK still comes from the black market, things are rapidly beginning to change.

In fact, a 2016 UN report found that the UK accounted for approximately 45% of global cannabis production, while also being responsible for 70% of the worldwide export market.

However, the UK industry is still in its infancy, which has left investors starved for British pot stocks to add to their portfolio.

And with Prohibition Partners predicting the industry could reach $3 billion in size by 2024, this is one investment opportunity you don't want to miss.

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Hugo Gray
Hugo Gray

Hugo Gray is a Melbourne-based journalist with a body of work that covers a diverse range of topics, including immigration law, sex technology, and now the rapidly expanding cannabis industry.

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