By Luke Sholl

The world has been watching and Spain has now, finally, delivered. On June 28, 2017 the Catalonian Parliament came through. Cannabis clubs and the supply chain - starting with growing - will now be regulated on a regional basis.

That means only one thing. The cannabis club scene will not only continue to thrive in Barcelona, it will also increase the fever drum pitch in other areas. In other words, not only is this decision impactful locally, it solidifies a growing movement across Spain. It also re-ignites the conversation in Europe surrounding comprehensive legalization.

Coming as it does on the heels of both German and Swiss developments, this is also very good news for legalization advocates around the world.

Globally, this proves that the social aspect of cannabis will continue to thrive in new forms. Until now, this has only been true of Amsterdam. Clubs, café’s and other locations where cannabis could be consumed socially are still a cutting edge idea in the legalization conversation. Legalizing the supply chain, as this new reform does, legitimises other parts of the industry for the first time. Catalonia has just moved that issue ahead and in a big way.

Now what?


Barcelona, the capital city of Catalonia, is about to become a different animal. Europeans can now distinguish themselves from Americans – or not. The choice is on the table.

The cannabis club discussion has been hot here for some time. In fact, it was primarily local activists who managed to gather enough signatures to get rid of grey areas and police raids, forcing the issue of cannabis reform. Only 50,000 signatures were required - no trouble for the members of the consumer association La Rosa Verda.

Like Colorado, this area of Spain is known for its independence and creative ways of doing things. Unlike Boulder or Denver, Colorado, expect things to play out a little differently here.



This move absolutely gives a boost to the local cannabis industry, initiating a discussion within Spain and other European countries. Primarily, the conversation centers around how to regulate cannabis both recreationally and medically.

Essentially, the new law acts like a kind of puzzle piece that moves the entire discussion into another realm.

In the short-term, it further establishes and legitimises Spanish growers and distributors, as well as club operators. This means that for the first time, legitimate marijuana farms, clubs, shops and others in the supply chain will begin to truly establish themselves and grow their customer base.

It also creates a new kind of market. It remains to be seen how popular the idea of American or Canadian imports will be here. Or if Catalonia will be allowed to operate outside of medical cannabis.

Foreign investment capital, in particular American capital, can only be pleased. It does not, however, mean their investments in this market are totally safe now. However, they are much safer than they were. Look for an influx of U.S. dollars as a result. But also expect to see a few British expats in the mix.

This is a highly enticing siren song. And chances are, that siren is about to turn into a celestial canna-choir. Nevertheless, caveat emptor. There is still a lot of risk.


This development is not necessarily likely to push the conversation here or elsewhere overnight. Why?

It is not federal reform. This law is the equivalent to state reform in the United States. Growers here, for example, will not be eligible to participate in the German medical market. They are not federally recognised. As such, they fall outside of UN mandates. Therefore, Catalonia could be challenged over this new law by the federal Spanish Parliament or in constitutional court.

That said, legalization is still highly significant regionally, especially now. And it bodes very well for the interim future.


Do not expect a free-for-all here. Authorities are trying to strike a reasonable balance between economy and science. Not to mention international regulations and requirements. Each club can grow no more than 150kg of dried cannabis per year. An agronomist will have to sign off on compliance. Clubs' futures will absolutely be on the line in terms of meeting these standards. This starts with having registered carriers who use non-public transportation to transfer the cannabis from farm to club.

The new rule change is also clearly not intended to encourage canna-tourism. That is not to say that this will not happen. There is a 15 day waiting period between joining a club and partaking in the canna-crop that comes with it. This does not, of course, prevent people from registering before they arrive.

Catalonia is more concerned with its own residents. Short term tourists, as they were before, are on their own.

cannabis cutting


Switzerland is currently embarking on an equally interesting experiment. The movement to tax and regulate every 1% THC plant in the country is absolutely catching fire. In Switzerland and other places.

What happens in the next year will be very interesting to watch. Catalonia is a different cup of canna-cocoa than what floats in Switzerland. But the move toward cannabis as a taxable commodity is evident.

Everyone needs this tax revenue. Most are weary of the narco-terror discussion. Legalization is the easiest way to kill two birds with one stone, no matter what your personal opinions on cannabis may be.


There are a couple of obvious next steps.

The first is that the entire industry surrounding Catalonia's cannabis clubs will further professionalise. At the moment, much of this is focussed on non-profit models. How this will change with the arrival of American expat money is anybody’s guess. The scene will, however, inevitably get a little more professional and focussed on the bottom line. It has to in order to thrive. Tax revenues are at stake.
The success of the Catalonian experiment will undoubtedly expand across Spain before national legislative action consolidates this.

It will also serve as a concrete victory for reform activists across the EU. This model is exactly what German reformers have been pushing for for a long time now. Mayors in several German towns, including Berlin, have all suggested this model. Right now, Bremen, Berlin, Düsseldorf, Frankfurt and a few other German cities are all in various stages of discussion on what to do with not only medical, but recreational cannabis reform.

This development in Spain only moves the needle further. And even better, it bodes well for both patients and the overall legalization discussion.


Get in line. This development is likely to attract students from across the EU to Barcelona for the summer. As if they did not have ample reason to go already.
One of the interesting things about the Catalonian reform is how communal it is designed to be. That means that the locals, over the age of 21, have better chances than you do of scoring a pot gig.

That does not mean you cannot go for it. The scene in both Barcelona and in other places in Spain will certainly be transformed by this new law. Maybe not in the same way as seen in other hotspots for reform.

In other words, if you don’t get that job in Barcelona, there will soon be other opportunities.


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