Yo, what’s good? My name’s Dan and I’m here to talk about the cannabis social club scene in Spain. You can light up and grow your own bud at these members-only clubs in Barcelona and other parts of the country. The laws are pretty chill, but some people think they’re causing more problems than they’re worth.
Spain has always been pretty laid-back when it comes to cannabis. They decriminalized personal use way back in the 1970s. Even Christopher Columbus, the dude who discovered America, was known to use hemp for all sorts of things, including the sails on his ships. There’s even a statue of him in Barcelona with two cannabis plants growing up the column.
So, it’s no surprise that cannabis social clubs have become a big thing in Spain. These non-profit clubs are meant to provide a safe and legal environment for members to grow and smoke weed. But with limited legislation and enforcement, criminal gangs have been taking advantage of the situation. So, what’s being done about it?
What is a Cannabis Social Club in Spain?
First things first, let me break down what a cannabis social club is in Spain. They exist because of soft legislation and legal grey areas, not full legalization or decriminalization. Supposedly, these clubs are non-profit organizations made up of members who pay fees to support the growth and consumption of cannabis. Selling cannabis is still illegal, so membership fees should only cover operational costs.
There are hundreds of these clubs now, some official and some not so much. Some clubs only serve select members who are recommended by current members, while others are open to everyone including tourists. Nowadays, many clubs have open doors and business is booming.
What Does the Law Actually Say About Cannabis Clubs?
The laws around cannabis social clubs are pretty vague if you ask me. The clubs operate within a legal loophole which allows people to smoke on private property without getting busted. In theory, these clubs are just groups of friends hanging out and growing weed together. But in reality, things can get pretty dicey.
The Rise of Cannabis Tourism
Amsterdam used to be the go-to spot for cannabis tourism in Europe, but as their laws have gotten tighter, people are looking southward to Spain instead. In Amsterdam, growing cannabis for any purpose is illegal but selling it within a coffeeshop is not. So where do they get their weed from? Illegal grows that magically become legal once they enter a coffeeshop.
In Spain, however, it’s legal for clubs to grow and distribute their own weed as long as it’s only going to members. But how do you define a member? With limited legislation around membership of cannabis clubs in Spain, all someone has to do is fill out an online form or something. This permissive attitude has its ups and downs – anyone over 18 can join a club and get access to good-quality weed in a usually safe environment.
But with so many members come problems. Clubs may need to import weed from larger farms if they can’t grow enough for their members – which is illegal by the way. These larger farms are often run by criminals using one club as a front for their operation.
Organized Crime Steps In
With such a huge membership base, these clubs have the potential to be hugely profitable – even though they’re not supposed to make a profit. Criminal gangs will step in if there’s money to be made. And if clubs can’t keep up with demand for weed from their ever-growing member base, they may turn to illegal sources.
Spain is becoming one of the world’s leading cannabis exporters – especially in Europe where Spanish weed can be found almost everywhere. This is causing problems for the image of cannabis clubs in Spain because laws allowing personal consumption are being abused to facilitate international drug trade.
What Is Being Done About It?
The Spanish authorities are dealing with these issues in various ways – from tightening legislation to relaxing it further. But without proper implementation, anything they do won’t be effective.
The law around commercial production of cannabis in Spain is weak – growers often get away with very limited punishment – so police raids and arrests don’t really deter offenders. Plus it can be difficult for police to differentiate between legal and illegal grows which means legitimate clubs may see their grows raided despite doing everything above board.
Some suggest creating clearer legislation around these clubs – like Catalonia did in 2017 with their Rosa Verde regulations:
– Clubs can only grow 150kg of dried bud per year
– Members must wait 15 days after applying before being accepted
– Clubs must use registered carriers to transport cannabis from farm to club
These regulations limit how much a club can produce – therefore limiting their profitability.
Some people want growing and profit-making legalized across Spain but that could cause problems too. It would legitimize an industry that’s still seen as shady by some and it could make Spain an even bigger hub for international drug trade.
The Current Situation
Spain appears stuck in limbo when it comes to cannabis regulation – Catalonia is eager to push forward with legislation but the larger Spanish state is less certain how to proceed. Without clear regulations, criminal gangs will keep exploiting loopholes which will eventually threaten liberal cannabis reform in Spain.