Do You know about Barcelona Cannabis Clubs and how they operate?
Perception of cannabis worldwide is currently undergoing a massive shift. There are just too many good stories from across the globe to ignore and it is becoming increasingly difficult for media sources to try and push the old cannabis propaganda. Over the past week, we have seen (comparatively) positive cannabis features on both The Daily Mail and The Mirror asking whether legalisation may be the sensible way forward, and this shows just how much the media over here in the UK is beginning to shift.
As we continue our fight to legalise cannabis both for medicinal and recreational purposes in the UK, other countries are steaming ahead with the green industry.
One country that has had a legal cannabis scene for a few years now is Spain, where cannabis social clubs are legally allowed to operate on a private member’s club basis.
In Barcelona Cannabis Clubs members pay for shares per gram of cannabis, rather than purchasing the bud itself. This is very different from the better-known Amsterdam model, as not anybody over the age of 18 can walk in and buy cannabis like they could in a Dutch coffeeshop.
We wanted to find out more about Barcelona Cannabis Clubs which becoming infamous online, and for good reason. There are hundreds in operation all over Spain, with Barcelona a Central hub, and with such variety that there is likely a club out there to suit almost any cannabis user’s preferences.
We sat down with Russ Hudson, founder of MarijuanaGames.org. Russ currently lives in Barcelona for half the year and Maine for the other half – originally from the US (Boston), Russ spent time in Germany before getting a house in Spain.
Russ provides valuable insight into Spain’s cannabis scene via his website, and we wanted to ask him some questions about the clubs and their operation, plus get the low-down for any of our readers looking to travel out to sunny Spain. Interview below:
Hi Russ, great to have you – thought we’d start with a light warm-up – how long have you been living out in Spain?
Thanks, Nuff! I first moved to Spain from the Nordrhein Westfalen region of Germany in 2013.
Where are you from originally?
I am originally from the Boston area in Massachussetts, United States. My wife and I have a house in a very rural part of Maine and spend about half the time in Spain and the other half in the US.
And how long have you been a cannabis user?
I have been using cannabis for a quarter century, since I was about 12-13.
You website – marijuana games – focuses on a fun side of cannabis with plenty of entertainment; what inspired you to set it up?
I spent years working independently as a freelancer, ghostwriter, web developer and search marketer. Eventually I decided to put these skills to use for a personal site about cannabis, something that I have always been passionate about. MarijuanaGames.org was in development in the spring of 2013, but it wasn’t launched until I moved to Spain in 2013 and suddenly had a wealth of material to write about and develop content with.
It’s great to pursue a passion like that! We found you from this article you posted: 10 things you should know about Barcelona Cannabis Clubs, detailing info on what you need to join and be a member. Have things changed since this article was published?
Not much has changed; the requirements are still the same as outlined in the article.
We’ve heard all sorts about memberships, needing a residential address and more, what is different in Barcelona from the way that Amsterdam is operating with coffeeshops open to all adults?
The primary difference is that Amsterdam’s coffeeshops are open to anyone, while in Spain the cannabis clubs are all private; you cannot enter under Spanish law without a referral from an existing member. Once you are a member, you can never enter or remain inside the club unless you have identification AND your membership card on your person at all times. This means that each club can be selective about the type of member that it will accept, allowing clubs to create very specific environments and filter out undesirable applicants.
We heard from another source that the clubs are so embedded now that you have tourist-catchers signing people up for €20 on the street. Is this true, and would it be worth our readers looking at cannabis-inspired trips to Barcelona rather than Amsterdam this year?
There have been street promoters working Las Ramblas and other areas for years; they only recruit for the shittiest of clubs because this practice is illegal.
So what should people do if they are thinking of heading out to visit Spain and want to visit the Cannabis Clubs?
Membership is available through other channels – people are always welcome to email and strike up a dialogue with me, or they can find a member of a club they like and ask to be sponsored; it’s fairly simple. This means that people who are 420-friendly in Barcelona should be able to avoid the black market and get what they need safely, have a great time and socialise with fabulous people; keep in mind these are officially referred to as “Cannabis SOCIAL Clubs.”. It’s a totally different world than Amsterdam, and nearly everyone I know who has experienced both places prefers the sunny city of Barcelona.
That’s great info, thanks Russ. What has been the attitude of the police towards cannabis in Spain?
Police are less tolerant than they used to be, but for most people, there will never be a problem. Police generally only raid and shut down clubs when that club’s off-site grow operation has been busted. Members are rarely targeted in any way and Spain has never in its history criminally prosecuted even a single person for personal possession or consumption of cannabis. However, there are factions within law enforcement that favour prohibition and the continuance of the vast wasteland of failures that is the “War on Drugs.”
Is Barcelona particularly liberal or is the whole of Spain operating in the same way?
The laws that govern clubs are federal, so things are the same in most of Spain, however, application and enforcement can differ significantly. Barcelona is in the semi-autonomous region of Catalonia, where attitudes are generally more liberal and relaxed. For more information please see this post if you haven’t already:
Do you know if the clubs have made it over to sunny Ibiza yet?
Yes, there are clubs all over Spain, including in Ibiza. I haven’t been yet so I don’t know precisely where!
Thanks for stopping by Russ.
Hopefully that has provided some useful insight into the way Barcelona Cannabis Clubs operate. Are you planning on heading out to Spain this year for a 420-inspired trip? Let us know by tweeting @ISMOKEMAG