Cannabis Clubs Are Here to Stay in Barcelona, Spain

Cannabis Clubs Are Here to Stay in Barcelona, Spain


Barcelona Mayor Jaume Collboni and the Barcelona City Council are ramping up efforts to close down the city’s famed cannabis clubs, with the City Council recently launching a new inspection campaign. The effort is aimed at ‘putting an end’ to clubs in the city, with city leadership stating that “It is a model that we do not want in our city.”

Cannabis clubs in Barcelona have long benefitted from a favorable tolerance of cannabis clubs, which operate in a legal ‘grey area’ of sorts. Commercial adult-use cannabis is still prohibited in Spain, however, it is unconstitutional for Spain’s government to prohibit private cannabis use.

Law enforcement in the Barcelona region of Spain estimates that the area is home to roughly 450 clubs, all of which are essentially unregulated. The clubs are very popular, and even if one is closed down another one pops up to take its place in short order. An effort to close down all of them is an untenable goal by every measure.

Cannabis prohibition is a failed public policy, with no hard evidence existing to back up the claim that it works. Prohibition does not lower consumption rates. Humans have made use of the cannabis plant for thousands of years, and that will never cease to be the case. Barcelona is no exception.

Cannabis is so engrained into the culture of the Barcelona region that it is home to the largest cannabis super-conference on the planet, a collaborative effort between the world’s largest cannabis gathering, Spannabis, and the world’s leading B2B series, the International Cannabis Business Conference.

Barcelona is one of the top international cannabis destinations on earth, with people flocking to the city from all corners of the globe every spring. It’s one of the only places on the planet where cannabis consumers of all backgrounds agree about the quality of the cannabis being amazing, with the same being true about the interesting places in which to consume it in a private setting.

Nowhere else on earth can the same cannabis scene be found that exists in Barcelona, which is why people go there. It is arguably the number one cannabis tourist destination on earth right now.

Barcelona doesn’t have a cannabis use problem. Rather, Barcelona has a cannabis regulation problem, and that problem increases in size and scope with every passing year. Barcelona’s unregulated cannabis market is enormous, and it is largely controlled by organized crime right now.

That, in turn, creates public health outcome concerns with people consuming products that are not tested for contaminants, in addition to public safety concerns.

The best thing that Barcelona policymakers can do is to work to transition cannabis clubs in Barcelona into a regulated system, yet, that is not something that Barcelona politicians can do unilaterally. At one point Barcelona had a regulatory program, however, the Spanish Supreme Court halted the local program.

Ultimately, regulations need to be passed at the national level in Spain. Lawmakers need to recognize the reality of the situation, that cannabis clubs in Spain are here to stay, and that it is better from a public health strategy standpoint to regulate the cannabis industry rather than leaving it to organized crime to continue to fill the void.

This article first appeared on Internationalcbc.com and is syndicated here with special permission.

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    Johnny Green is the Media and Content Director for the International Cannabis Business Conference and has blogged about cannabis since January 2010.

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