Barcelona Cannabis clubs are getting more and more attention around the world as other countries are looking at modelling the success it has brought to the Spanish society.
I have recently lived in Barcelona, Spain for over 4 months and checked out the Cannabis club ‘system’. I found it extremely smart and most likely the best way to approach Cannabis in modern society.
Here at Greendorphin.com, we believe that Cannabis plays a very important role in modern living and Spain is setting an example for that.
During my stay in Barcelona I had a thorough look into the Cannabis clubs and in this article, I am sharing with you what I learned.
What are Cannabis Clubs?
A Cannabis club works like any other social club.
In Spain, it is not against the law to grow and consume your own Cannabis. It is not against the law to produce marijuana for personal use or to consume it at your home or another private residence.
So Cannabis clubs are basically growing Cannabis for the club members who pay them to grow it. Then they all meet at the club property to share it.
Inside a Cannabis club in Barcelona:
The Beginning of the Barcelona Cannabis Clubs
The beginning of the Cannabis clubs in Spain goes back to 1993, when the pro-legalization group, Ramon Santos de Estudios Sobre el Cannabis tested the country’s legal framework. Their aim was to see if it allowed social clubs to cultivate Cannabis legally for their members’ consumption.
The petition they sent to Barcelona’s drug prosecutor was suggesting a system where they could grow and provide Cannabis to people which fit into the legal framework. The prosecutor had agreed with the petition which started the first wave of what we know now as Cannabis social clubs.
The group then began to cultivate its first crop for its members and of course generated interest from the local media. The prosecutor’s initial opinion unfortunately, did not stop the police from raiding the group, seizing its harvest and arresting the members.
The case ended up in the country’s Supreme Court, where it was ruled that even if marijuana isn’t intended for commercial use, it was still believed that production by a group was “undesirable” and should be subject to penalties.
By this time, it had reached a point when other groups began to challenge the ruling and saw the opportunity to apply the existing framework in service of the people.
Leading this second wave, was the Bilbao-based Kalmudia Association, whom successfully harvested its crop the first time in 1997 and then for the 3 years following.
This led to the establishment of the first legal Cannabis social club, the ‘Catadores de Cannabis de Barcelona’ in 2001.
Since then, the Spanish law gradually became more and more Cannabis-friendly, I wrote a recent article about Cannabis in Spain, that you can check out here.
Today even the possession of larger quantities of Cannabis is legal as long as there is no intention to sell or traffic the product in any way.
As you can see Cannabis clubs were not created overnight.
All the hard work by the Spanish has been noticed by many other countries who have taken similar action. Belgium, for example, implemented a similar system and it looks as if New Zealand is on its way to doing the same.
How do Barcelona Cannabis Clubs Work?
The social clubs in Barcelona (and throughout Spain) enable locals and visitors to become members of the club and obtain Cannabis from the club.
There are a few tricks to ensure that clubs play within the law.
#1 – Clubs are not allowed to advertise.
This is great for every member of society. There is no marketing apart from some people walking up and down in town and whispering ‘cannabis club, coffee shop’ to people walking by… my advice is to ignore those guys.
Instead look for Cannabis clubs on the internet, on social media and when you find one, contact them and ask if you could get a referral. They may not be able to directly send you a referral however, there are many club websites and Facebook pages run by the members that can legally send you an invitation.
There are several hundred clubs in Barcelona, so it is likely you’ll be able to find one near your accommodation.
The main thing to remember is that they cannot legally advertise, so you have to go to them. They often need to know when you’ll be visiting for the first time, as it takes 5 – 10 minutes to register as a member of the club.
Here is what an invite looks like to the Belveda Social Club (the address is blurred out for privacy):
#2 – There is an annual membership fee.
Once you have an invite, you show up and they will register you as a member.
You need a local address to become a member. This can be your hotel or Airbnb address as they will not mail you anything in the future.
The membership varies between 20 – 60 Euros a year and it is non-negotiable. You can’t join for a few days or a week… everyone has to join for a year at that cost. Non-negotiable.
If you are with your partner or friends, it is most common that all of you have to register and pay the membership fee to be able to access the club.
#3 – You are technically not “buying” Cannabis.
The social clubs are growing Cannabis for their members and the members make donations to the club, but they can’t sell the Cannabis as such.
So when you show up as a visitor and would like to be apart of this magical system, you ‘make a donation’ at the club to get Cannabis for your consumption.
It might be a bit confusing to grasp at first, however, it is built for the clubs’ protection as they can’t ‘sell’ Cannabis.
So what it means to a visitor, is simply stay away from saying words like ‘buying’ when at a Cannabis Club.
What you need to do is change the language to ‘getting’ or ‘obtaining’, as the clubs are not allowed to SELL Cannabis. Since you are part of the club, your requirements are,
- Pay your membership
- Pay some funds towards the shared expense of cultivation and upkeep of the club.
In return, you can ‘obtain’ a gram of Cannabis for every few Euros you donate (depending on which one you are after it can vary).
#4 – The price of Cannabis in Barcelona.
Cannabis is relatively cheap in Barcelona. The cheapest buds I saw were 5.5 Euros a gram for the sativa dominant auto flowering strain, called Power Plant and the most expensive was 14 Euros for also a sativa, called Super Lemon Haze.
The dispensary stand at the Belveda Cannabis Club:
#5 – No bulk discount.
It is worth noting that bulk discounts are not used the way they are in the States. Even if you buy an ounce, you’ll pay 28 times the price/gram.
#6 – Quality of Cannabis in Spain.
The quality was on the higher end for every bud that I saw in Barcelona. A lot of the crops are produced outdoors as the whole country is well suited for marijuana production.
The lower priced strains were also good quality however, they might have had bigger buds and more stems, hence the lower price.
#7 – Taking your weed home or back to your accommodation.
Becoming a member of a club in Barcelona is perfectly legal as well as consuming Cannabis there. It is also legal to consume Cannabis at the privacy of your home or residence.
It is however, illegal to traffic Cannabis, so if the police search you for anything and find you with Cannabis, they can fine or prosecute you.
Wow, sounds like a bit of a deal breaker, right?
Even though it is unlikely the police will search you, you can never be sure. So you can’t have a peace of mind … or can you?
Yes, there is a way around it that makes the transportation of personal Cannabis rather safe.
The way to get around it is by putting the Cannabis you are taking home (to your residence in Spain) into your underwear.
Sounds a bit weird, however, your undies fall under the definition of your private property in Spanish law and even if you get searched, they won’t search your undies, unless they have a warrant.
Even if they suspect that you have Cannabis in your underwear, in most cases it would be extremely unlikely they would try to get it as they would need to get a warrant for searching you ‘there’.
This is NOT a legal advice obviously, however, it is surely a discrete way of taking your personal Cannabis home and making it extremely unlikely that you’d get into any trouble.
#8 – Clubs and at home are ok, but not in public.
It is not against the law, however, it attracts a penalty to consume Cannabis in public in Spain. I saw people smoking joints everywhere on the street and on the beach.
Don’t be tempted to light up though, as in my view, it is best to enjoy what the system allows and try not to push the boundaries.
I personally saw people smoking marijuana in close proximity of police officers and it seemed they were purely focusing on groups or individuals that were disturbing the public.
Smoking weed did not seem to fall into this category. Honestly, police were more concerned about young people jaywalking and witnessed an officer lecturing a young boy as he jaywalked across a busy street with earphones in.
Having said that, if they do think you are making trouble or smoking while minors are around, they will surely be onto you. If you are consuming Cannabis in public they have the power to issue a penalty for 300 Euros and upwards.
So as a conclusion, I highly recommend staying away from public consumption.
My Final Say on Cannabis Clubs
Senior researcher at the Massey University, in New Zealand, Dr. Chris Wilkins believes that New Zealand should introduce Cannabis legalisation in the right way. And that right way is through Cannabis social clubs. According to him,
“The main advantage is that it’s a personal, small-scale, non-commercial way of obtaining cannabis,”
I agree and saw it working very well in Spain myself. Cannabis clubs can use no marketing and it keep operations ‘small-scale’.
I am not against big business however, if we look at the tobacco, alcohol and pharmaceutical industries, it is probably a very good idea to introduce Cannabis production and distribution to a lesser scale.
I’ve been fortunate enough to spend 4 months in Barcelona and to check out the Cannabis clubs. Overall I couldn’t be more impressed with my experience.
I sincerely believe that Cannabis social clubs are the best way for keeping Cannabis consumers and non-consumers happy at the same time.
If you have the opportunity to travel to Barcelona, you surely should. It is not only the new Cannabis capital of Europe, but there is an incredible culture, amazing European cuisine, lots of sunshine as well as warm and welcoming people to help you enjoy your stay.