Storefront of an establishment called "Cannabis Club", Source: kweez mcG on Flickr (CC BY 2.0 DEED)

Barcelona seeks to shut down social cannabis clubs

Barcelona seeks to shut down social cannabis clubs

The new local government has ended the era of tolerance to these soft drug consumption establishments

Social cannabis clubs are a grey-area phenomenon, which has proliferated throughout Spain allowing residents and tourists a safe and accessible way to consume marijuana. However, the new Barcelona City Council, and specifically Deputy Mayor Albert Batlle, have expressed displeasure about the tolerance towards these facilities and an interest in shutting them down if possible.

Recently, the local government, together with the municipal police force launched an inspection campaign, which targeted twenty social cannabis clubs in the Catalan capital.

According to Forbes, Mr Batlle emphasized that they were increasing inspections to potentially close these establishments but recognized the difficulty of completely eradicating them, hinting that a change of laws might be required to accomplish this goal.

Uneasy tolerance in Barcelona towards cannabis

This is, in fact, not the first time that the local authorities have attempted to crack down on the thriving cannabis clubs, as ten years ago there was a similar drive on the part of the officials.

What saved the clubs in 2014 was the so-called “Green Rose Regulation”, which established guidelines for the way the establishments could operate through membership. But then in 2021, the Spanish Supreme Court overturned the legislation. This didn’t spell the end of the clubs, however, as they found yet another legal loophole to work under “private social club” licenses. Paying members of the club can grow and consume the soft drug internally and many tourists are attracted to the possibility of becoming members when visiting the city.

The current government, however, seems to have a more conservative stance on the issue and the argument behind the inspections was that it aimed to determine whether the consumption of marijuana, which is still illegal under Spanish law, was actively promoted and encouraged there.

The cannabis social club system in Spain serves over 4 million users and attracts an annual tourism audience estimated between 6.6 to 12.4 million consumers, as reported by New Frontier Data.



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