Inside Barcelona’s private marijuana clubs

Inside Barcelona’s private marijuana clubs

Published on 10/3/16

In the city of Barcelona, Spain you can see a diverse night life of bars and clubs, but behind certain private closed doors, you can find marijuana clubs, but not like anything you've heard about in places like Colorado or Amsterdam. Spain does not participate in any legal marijuana or medical marijuana programs, however it does protect it's citizens right to private consumption and right to associate. There are 268 registered members-only cannabis clubs in Barcelona, but to get involved you must know someone already on the inside. Having a connection and multiple-day waiting period has been an efficient way to avoid tourism in the market. The clubs are able to operate only as a nonprofit, allowing members to pay an annual fee, and each member is typcally allowed a max amount of 100 grams per month. There is currently legislation with growing support that would regulate the shops and legally allow them to grow, cultivate, and distribute marijuana.

They’re not like Amsterdam’s coffee shops, or Colorado’s dispensaries for that matter. Here, to join a club you have to be personally sponsored by a member. Then you wait, sometimes days, before you’re allowed to have any pot. No outsiders are permitted. Tourists are usually not welcome. And in almost every case, you would pass by a club’s door and not even notice it.

In Spain, marijuana is actually illegal, and that includes for medical use. But the clubs are protected by two facts: Private consumption isn’t penalized, and the right to associate is constitutionally guaranteed.

The clubs function as nonprofit associations. Members pay a small annual fee and pool money to fund the operation, each according to how much weed they commit to (usually capped at 100 grams per month). This means there’s technically no selling or buying involved, according to the clubs, and consumption is private as long as the pot doesn’t leave the premises.

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