Spain is a beautiful, gracious country with miles of coastline, loads of European culture, and the perfect work/play schedule; España’s late nights, long siestas, and revelatory art and cuisine make it one of the best places to experience life – with or without cannabis. In Spain, the cannabis clubs are not public, but private – you have to apply for a membership and be accepted to use the club’s space and marijuana. There are some other laws and customs concerning Spain’s cannabis club which might be unfamiliar to a traveler who is vacationing, studying, or has recently moved there; this article will take a look at Spain’s cannabis laws and its extensive club system.
Cannabis Laws in Spain
As of March 16, 2015, it is illegal to traffic cannabis or to smoke it in public places in Spain, but it is legal to grow for personal use or smoke in the privacy of your own home. According to Damian Corrigan of About Travel.com, the police may harass you if they find cannabis on you, but it is sold openly in the streets of Granada and Barcelona. Corrigan notes that some smoke cannabis outside bars seemingly unconcerned about being arrested. Platt and Vargas of The IB Times call Barcelona “the Amsterdam of southern Europe” due to its uniquely designed cannabis clubs. Members of these clubs must be residents of Spain (with I.D. and a residential Spain address), and must be over the age of 21.
Cannabis Clubs in Spain
In 2013, a Health Ministry of Spain study showed that more Spaniards began smoking cannabis in 2013 than smoking tobacco; 50% of Spaniards are in favor of legal cannabis. In order to combat persecution for cannabis use, private clubs have been sprouting up in Barcelona, Valencia, and Basque Country, all requiring approved membership. These clubs allow the owners to cultivate marijuana and distribute it to their members. The members pay for club upkeep and cultivation costs in exchange for use of the club and its marijuana. Because there are no laws against restricted distribution of marijuana to private club members in Spain, 40 cannabis clubs have rapidly turned into 700. Because they are private, the clubs can cater to one or more specific portions of the population — tourists not included. Spain’s cannabis clubs are meant for the locals, members, and communities only.
La Flora, a Cannabis Club in Spain
La Flora’s leadership team stated that “Our biggest objective…is to broaden the investigation of cannabis as a possible therapeutic alternative,” indicating that income is not its goal. La Flora also offers a service where unsmoked cannabis allowances can be saved to smoke later, known as a “deposit”; a doctor comes monthly to offer advice to “therapeutic members.” La Flora’s leadership stresses the maturity, respect, and community its club is meant to impart, and does not like being compared to Amsterdam’s party coffee shop atmosphere. La Flora promotes legal, safe cannabis for all members of the community without the involvement of street crime.
New Cannabis Club Restrictions in Spain
As of May, 2015, a new law was passed in Barcelona limiting the smoke allowed to emanate from a legal, private cannabis club, and a new law might also criminalize the use of marijuana near “spaces frequented by young people.” If this latest proposal passes, the number of cannabis clubs in Barcelona might decrease by 75% or more. The Federació d’associacions cannábiques de Catalunya or FEDCAC, emphasizes the safety and community of Spain’s cannabis clubs, and La Flora’s leadership believes its own existence fights black market marijuana sales. As of July, the Supreme Court of Spain had ruled against a Bilbao club it said violated public health by exceeding the shared consumption philosophy and model — the club was producing more cannabis than was consumable by its 290 strong membership. The ruling does not currently apply to other clubs in Spain, however.
What Membership in a Cannabis Club Entails
According to VICE, Spain’s cannabis cultivation brings in around $6 million per month in marijuana sales. Russ Hudson of Marijuanagames.org notes that marijuana is not really sold, but the club members pay for the cultivation, use and upkeep of the club, and utilities through their membership fees. Hudson says it is “rude” to discuss the purchasing of marijuana in the clubs because it actually belongs to and is shared and cultivated by everyone. Hudson noted that cannabis clubs in Spain can be “three floors of a major building” or “a small room with a couple of cheap chairs.” Most regular cannabis club members have memberships at more than one club, and prospective members should beware the cannabis club that charges a low annual membership fee as it may provide bad service and worse marijuana.