The ‘pioneering’ model has decreased street dealing and consumption in Barcelona. Both police and city officials agree on this.
Howevre the 200 or so cannabis clubs you will find in Catalonia’s largest city will be closing after the Supreme Court closed a legal loophole that allowed it to become Spain’s cannabis capital.
This is just the latest setback in a string of setbacks. In 2017, a Catalan law, supporting the private consumption of cannabis by adults, was overturned by the court. The law stated that it was part of a citizen’s “fundamental right to free personal development and freedom of conscience”. The clubs operated since then under local Barcelona law, which regulated their use. However, this bylaw has been overturned by judges who ruled that the city authorities weren’t competent to legislate in matters governed only by the state.
The Citizens of Catalonia are heavily in favour of creating their own independant State seperate from Spain. The region held independence referendums in 2014 and 2017, the results of which were 80% and 92% wanting independence respectively. However both were considered invalid by the Spanish government. Aslong as Catalonia is officially a region of Spain the Supreme Court has the legal authority to overule local law in the region.
Eric Asensio, spokesman for the Federation of Catalan Cannabis Associations, said “the majority of associations assume that sooner or later they will be forced to close down”. Around 70% of Spain’s cannabis clubs can be found in Catalonia, the majority of which are located in Barcelona. Tourists pay about 20 euros to join these associations, although it can up to 50 for annual membership. Tourist make up a significant portion of their income.
The city, which had supported these associations’ dubious semi legal status has informed them that the ruling prohibits the sale, consumption, or promotion of cannabis. It stated that it would soon inspect the clubs and start with those with the greatest negative impact, which are geared towards tourists or massive sales”.
While the clubs are essentially private, they have become the a large selling point for many tourists. The fees, which average around 20 euros, often go towards the first purchase.
These associations were originally private clubs that allowed members to buy and smoke cannabis. Many have moved towards new models that make obtaining membership and cannabis easy for tourists. This facilitated the sale of the massive quantities of cannabis grown in Catalonia.
The general attitude of the region is relatively tolerant towards cannabis. The police, city authorities, and associations all agree that the clubs help reduce street trafficking and consumption. They aren’t opposed to the clubs in principle, according to the police.
The federation stated in a statement that the judiciary was attacking the associations again without considering the reality of Barcelona, which has co-existed for over 30 years with these entities.
Barcelona has been a pioneer of a much more tolerated model towards drug use. It has been replicated internationally. They support new drugs policies that focus on the individual and their health.