The Rise of Cannabis Social Clubs in Spain
Cannabis clubs are popping up all over Spain, so we thought we would take a closer look at them and exactly how they operate.
When thinking “smoke shops in Europe,” one tends to think “Amsterdam”, but there is a new cannabis hub in Europe, and it has grown exponentially in the past six years – Barcelona, Spain. Cannabis clubs have gone from around 40 in 2010 to more than 700 in number today! Unlike the famous coffee shops of Amsterdam and the dispensaries of the US - which almost anyone can get into - these cannabis clubs of Barcelona are meant to be for members of the club only, operating through a loophole in the law.
Northern Spain, specifically Barcelona, has led the way for this new cannabis revolution in Europe.
HOW CANNABIS CLUBS WORK
As the name suggests, cannabis clubs operate as private organisations as opposed to public shops. Current members are able to recruit others into their club, as long as new members live in that country and are over 18. Most clubs grow their own weed privately, with each member tending to get a say in how the club is run, what is grown, and how it is grown. It offers members peace of mind, allowing them to ensure quality and receive the bud they want. Instead of purchasing the cannabis from the club, which would be illegal, members pay an upkeep fee towards the running of the club, receiving a certain amount of weed for free.
THE RISE IN CLUB TOURISM
As the laws in areas like Amsterdam are being tightened, and coffee shop owners are being monitored more and more, Barcelona's cannabis club scene has been steadily relaxing.
Some clubs in Barcelona are now catering to tourists instead of those who live in the country, and have 10,000 members or more! These clubs are making huge profits and are setting the tone for a new attitude towards cannabis in Europe - similar to what the United States is going through now. Just like the United States, European politicians are changing their views and ideas about cannabis, with Spain looking to lead the way. For example, Barcelona's first female mayor, Ada Colau, recently proposed regulations to keep cannabis clubs open and created exceptions for the ones set to be closed down.
As clubs have grown in popularity in Barcelona, the rest of Northern Spain and other areas of Europe have seen clubs popping up in towns as well. Tourists are heading towards these areas to get a taste of this “New Amsterdam” and can even join these Cannabis clubs online!
However, this relaxed attitude towards cannabis tourism has attracted more and more attention from policing authorities. Cannabis is still illegal in Spain, and the more conservative elements of the country are trying to write new laws in order to suppress new ones from opening, as well as preventing existing clubs from big enough that they turn into more of a shop than a club. But while the authorities are trying to control Spain's cannabis clubs, public opinion of them is strong and positive. With more than 165,000 members in Barcelona alone, and a growing alliance between the members and individual clubs, people are banding together to ensure these loved clubs keep their doors open.
Just like so many issues, the future of the cannabis clubs in Barcelona, and the rest of Europe, depends on the people of the region and their ability to come together for a common cause. Things are looking great though, so let’s hope these clubs continue to go from strength to strength and show the world cannabis can be enjoyed responsibly.