barcelona cannabis clubs

Barcelona Regulates Cannabis Clubs, Paving the Way Towards a Regional Legalisation Model

  • While Barcelona is becoming increasingly known as the new cannabis capital, the Catalonian Parliament is working on a pioneering law in Spain governing the plant's cultivation, distribution and consumption. And the City of Barcelona has just approved an urban ordinance regulating cannabis clubs.
  • Security forces, however, continue to beleaguer some of these groups, and recently closed a club accused of attracting thousands of tourists to profit by selling cannabis.
barcelona cannabis clubs

The City of Barcelona has close 140 cannabis associations, a number that has increased exponentially in recent years. These clubs constitute a refuge for consumers, who do a great job fighting for the plant's legalisation. In general they are inconspicuous places with fewer than 300 members, and where cannabis lovers convene to smoke in a protected environment.

However, these places still face various inspections, coercion, and even attempts to close them. In addition to the case of the La Maca club, one of the best-known for its activism, and facing several on-going legal proceedings, law enforcement officials are going after those who, instead of having a logical number of members, are seeking to make money, according to their allegations. A few weeks ago, the city's Urban Guard and the Spanish Civil Guard shut down an association in the district of Raval on these grounds. According to their investigations, the place was attracting 100 new customers a day, most of them foreign tourists who were recruited in downtown areas. After accompanying them to the facility, they were charged 20 euros for a license and assured that their consumption would be totally legal. 

Despite the closure of this locale, Barcelona is already known and promoted on the Internet as a sort of new New Amsterdam. In fact, there are different pages informing those who will visit the city about the existing cannabis associations there. In English, they are told that they have to contact the establishments beforehand, previously providing the dates of their stays in Barcelona, and their personal data, as they are warned that they cannot show up at the door unannounced in order to acquire cannabis. What these websites do not specify is that, even if the tourists complete this procedure and contact them before their visits, many clubs that require new members to be introduced by current ones will still not let them in. 

Local citizens who are lovers of the plant can join one of these cannabis associations much more easily, for the purpose of consumption in a community atmosphere. 

Regularisation as a first step

In May of this year Barcelona approved the special urban development plan for cannabis clubs, setting down the conditions they have to follow. The legislation set a minimum distance of 100 to 150 meters between clubs and educational and health centres, and stated that the new premises created would be limited to 200 square meters, and have to feature a separate entrance from the street, a double door system, and a chimney for smoke extraction. 

Aprovat el Pla Urbanistic! Gràcies a l'@bcn_ajuntament i a totes les forçes que han donat suport! Seguim! #PleBcn

- CatFAC (@Cat_FAC) 27 de mayo de 2016

Under the plan, to get a license all new clubs must meet the conditions laid down, and the 140 that already exist will have a period of 18 months from the law's entry into force to conform or close.

The adoption of the regulations was the culmination of a long process that began in 2015 and which resulted in a freeze on new licenses until the rules were clarified. According to activists, despite how limited the legislation is, the most positive point is the small excerpt in which consumers' association rights are recognised. According to the plan, the main objective is "to reconcile cannabis users' right of association with the exercise of other fundamental rights, such as the protection of health, harmonious coexistence, and environmental protection." Still, many questions about cultivation, consumption and transmission remain unresolved, about which clubs only get a small set of urban and architectural guidelines. 

Beyond Barcelona, if all goes as planned, the Catalonian Government will take the next big step as far as the regulation and standardisation of consumption and the cultivation of cannabis is concerned: the regional Parliament is preparing a law that, if approved, would be groundbreaking in the country.

The future legislation goes back to a proposition effort by the platform La Rosa Verda, backed by different associations and groups. Its ultimate goal was to regulate consumer clubs, more than 500 in the community, and legally protect their users. 

"The filing of the proposal marked the end to a second phase of the La Rosa Verda project, a success, as it managed to officially submit legislation providing solutions to the political parties to put an end to their alegal status," explained backers on the website

Unlike the ordinance in Barcelona, ​​the law will define what an association is and the rights of those who become members, including receiving information on the composition of the cannabis they consume. Similarly, it will include details on transport and self-supply. 

If all goes well, this great new step in the fight for legalisation that has been raging for years in Catalonia could serve as a model and provide momentum across the rest of the country. "In other processes, such as in the United States, we saw that it was the states that spearheaded regulation: Washington, California, Oregon and Alaska, while the federal government sat by. It is a useful parallel, and we hope that the central government is able to read the situation and expand this law to the entire country," explains Oriol Casals, Legal Director of the Civil Observatory on Drugs and a spokesman for La Rosa Verda. 

For now, until its ultimate approval, Barcelona and Catalonia continue taking steps to become a "cannabis friendly" region in which the plant's lovers can enjoy it without being persecuted or marginalised ... good news for all supporters of cannabis, both in Catalonia and globally. 


Comments from our readers

There are no comments yet. Would you like to be the first?

Leave a comment!

Contact us

Contact us