Comfortable couches scattered in a dim environment, soft jazz playing in the background. At a table, a group talks about something. In another, a young professional answers emails from his laptop. This could be the scenario of another hipster cafe with wifi and natureba menu, but we are talking about a club for legal weed in Barcelona.
In recent years, such establishments have sprung up all over the city. According to a report by El País, in 2014 Barcelona already had 160 associations. If we expand the area to the metropolitan region of the city, the number rises to 300, which together totaled 165,000 members, about 2% of the entire population of Catalonia. To give you an idea, Amsterdam, with all its reputation as the city of fear and delirium in Europe, has 198 coffee shops. The difference here is that you only join a club and take out marijuana if you are a member.
With varying levels of sophistication, clubs range from places where members can relax to great music, participate in cultural activities, or even work at simple distribution points where you just pick up the product and leave. There are even those who do not even have a physical space and work only with delivery service. You can order marijuana online and wait in the tranquility of your home.
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In the list of members, people between 18 and 66 years and from various socio-economic situations. Among them, there are even those who use the drug for therapeutic purposes. Clubs are keen to ensure quality of service by cultivating herbs that are specific to this type of use, as well as those who want to expand creativity, relax quietly or have a stronger wave. With controlled production, the offer menu varies according to the customer’s taste.
Marijuana Law in Spain and Club Legality
The creation of marijuana clubs in Barcelona came about because of a vacuum in the law. In Spain, each autonomous community has the right to decide on grass legislation and Catalonia is the most liberal. Here, smoking weed in private spaces, such as your home, is not illegal. It is also allowed to grow the herb for its own consumption, but it is not allowed to sell it, smoke in public spaces or walk with marijuana in the streets.
In 2011, an anti-smoking law established that smoking would only be allowed indoors in publicly accessible places, such as bars or restaurants, if these places were smoking-specific clubs. Although the law was created with tobacco in mind, associations took advantage of this flaw to argue that it would apply to marijuana and hashish. It was then that the first clubs emerged.
Understand what they did? They took advantage of the cultivation permit for their own consumption and the permission to smoke in private places and created a model that works as a cooperative. The members just take what is already theirs, they are not buying anything. To walk within the rules, clubs cannot be for profit: all money generated must be reinvested in the association itself. Nor can they advertise or actively try to attract new members.
Who can join marijuana clubs?
You must be over 18 (some clubs require more than 21), have to be a city resident, and have a friend associated with the club beforehand. This means that you only enter by invitation and that if you come to the city hoping to find a new Amsterdam, you can take the little horse out of the rain. There was a club in El Raval that would pick up tourists on the street and join them right there without asking for a Spanish document or a certificate of patronage (proof of residence in the city), but it was closed in 2014.
Once you have a friend to validate your entry, you will need to complete an extensive registration form that will be reviewed by the club administration. Sometimes you have to prove that you were already a regular consumer of the herb and that you’re not being misled by * bad company * (I bet your mom has asked you to stop hanging out with this friend, huh?) Or by the club itself.
Other times you need to say how much marijuana you usually consume per month and that will be your monthly quota. Attention, maria-fumes, there is a maximum limit of 150 grams per month, which is a fucking thing, I investigated. This is because, if clubs were to pass more than 5 grams per day to users, they could be classified as distributors, according to local jurisprudence.