Barcelona Cannabis Clubs Under Attack

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Barcelona’s cannabis clubs have been under intense scrutiny and pressure by city administrators and police during the month of June, 2014. Clubs have been raided, staff and board members arrested and imprisoned and members have been harassed and ticketed in some cases. Several clubs have been closed permanently by Spanish police. Fortunately, many cannabis clubs in Barcelona have survived this onslaught, but according to some, this will only be a temporary reprieve. Next year, if some administrators have their way, the clubs will be shuttered.

The private cannabis club community in Barcelona knew this was coming. At the end of 2013 there were mutterings of pending inspections and regulations, but no one really knew what shape the changes would take until police exploded into several cannabis social clubs in early June, 2014.

At first these police raids closed some clubs that may have been involved in questionable or even illegal practices. Of course, they were shuttered on allegations ahead of any trials or court proceedings, and later some clubs were raided despite little evidence of any wrongdoing at all. Some raids seemed to be designed solely to gather information.

Zen Jardin and 4:20 Club on Notariat were closed on charges of violations of various cannabis-related laws related to the recruitment of new members.

The Senzi club was closed and several of its staff and the club president were sent to jail for at least 2 weeks before they were freed pending further investigation and trials. Sources close to the case told this author that Senzi’s president was under investigation for international drug trafficking, but whether this was related to Senzi’s operations or not is unclear at this time.

As of June 30th, this author learned that Senzi is re-opening next month.

Surprisingly, one raid that no one expected was conducted by police at ABCDA – one of the founding members of Barcelona’s cannabis club community. ABCDA is an extremely professional and highly organized private club managed by an intelligent board of directors and backed by powerful attorneys. An aggressive raid was conducted at the club and its grow warehouse. Large trash bags of “evidence” were collected, but word from ABCDA came back that most of the “excess production” charges were related to unusable materials; leaves, stems, stalks, roots and other harmless organic waste materials of cannabis production.

There were also allegations that ABCDA and perhaps other clubs were stealing power from the city or utilities in order to avoid detection of their large grow operations. The club was shuttered and some members were informed that the closure would be permanent, but within days the club was reopened. Meanwhile, costly supplies had been decimated, equipment confiscated and serious but probably exaggerated charges may still be pending against board members.

Other clubs that this author communicates with regularly reported 4-6 hour long investigations, with police searching club premises, questioning members (including posing as other members in order to solicit information), collecting records and generally making an aggressive appearance.

Outside on the street, some members were stopped by police and were questioned and searched. Upon finding marijuana on the person, police issued verbal admonishments and formal tickets that fined these individuals hundreds of Euro. One of these unlucky individuals in particular emailed this author repeatedly, gravely concerned that this violation would impact his professional life in his home country.

Fortunately, the majority of cannabis clubs in the city have excellent attorneys who handle the tickets, and in most cases there are few – if any – lasting repercussions.

NO MARIJUANA TOURISM!

Street level surveillance was especially heavy for clubs located near Las Ramblas and Placa Cataluña. City administrators have taken a strong stance against marijuana tourism, so these popular areas are under particularly intense scrutiny.

In several cases potential new members arrived to clubs located just off La Rambla followed by plain clothes detectives. Interestingly, this has caused some clubs to match wits and resources with the police; including clubs that operate according to the letter of the law. Comprehensive security and surveillance systems have been installed in some clubs, and when police or undercover agents are observed in the area, the club can (and some regularly have these last few weeks) shut its doors and refuse to respond.

Other clubs have taken extreme approaches and closed voluntarily. La Rambla Dragon closed to all members 2 weeks ago and will not reopen for some time. The club’s president and board members have closed the club in order to allow time to review their internal policies and carefully study the laws regarding cannabis and related business practices more closely in order to ensure that they are operating as clearly inside the law as possible.

Most clubs share this philosophy and have taken significant steps and expended vast resources in order to ensure their survival. But based on the frequency of police raids and under cover activity, it’s clear that there are people in power in Barcelona who do not want the cannabis social clubs to be allowed to exist.

Despite the heavy police activity, lawmakers have done little to change anything. A one-year moratorium was passed in June to prevent any new cannabis clubs from opening in the region. This will allow lawmakers, drug policy experts and others time to research and investigate the cannabis club community in order to draw up regulations to control or eliminate them.

One of the central issues that have perturbed city officials is the admittance of foreigners and tourists into the clubs. The laws in this regard are vague, but the fear of becoming the “next Amsterdam” looms large in the heart of a significant population of lawmakers in Catalonia. Consequently, clubs are being instructed not to admit foreigners except under specific conditions that, ironically, can be applied to a large majority of cannabis users.

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Author: Russ Hudson View all posts by
Russ Hudson is the CannaBizConsultant and founder and editor of MarijuanaGames.org. A professional writer, certified search marketer and web developer, Russ is an avid supporter of transparency in marijuana research, truth in cannabis activism, and full repeal of prohibition. Russ also advocates for the immediate development of a cooperative international economic and agricultural marijuana strategy.

Having lived, worked and traveled extensively throughout The Netherlands, Spain and the United States, Russ is intimately familiar with cannabis culture. But one of the coolest things about Russ is that he actually responds to emails personally. Find out for yourself by getting in touch with him now:

Email Russ: russ@marijuanagames.org

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Leave A Response

15 Comments on "Barcelona Cannabis Clubs Under Attack"

  1. Chris September 29, 2014 at 15:39 - Reply

    Hi russ, great articles. I’m in Barcelona this week and I’m staying near green age and k-lite. How do I go about getting membership? Or are there others which are easier to access? Please let me know ASAP!!

    Thanks…

  2. Olivier August 16, 2014 at 11:18 - Reply

    Hi Russ
    Hey man, this article (and your website overall) is just perfect!!! This is EXACTLY the kind of info I was looking for to “navigate” this system, completely new for me !!
    I will be in BCN tomorrow Sunday with my love (who has already arrived today) and we would very much want to find some good weed to have a nice evening, both in a club and then in our “home”
    We are both around 35yo…
    We could go to the club to register any time on Sunday (the 17)… Do you need to be there with us? How does it work?
    Yes, I have read the articles !!! 🙂

    I was wondering if the recent events with the police etc will prevent us to registering to a club??

    Thank you so much for helping us!!! …
    Cheers Russ!
    Olivier

  3. Imagine August 6, 2014 at 13:17 - Reply

    Hi Russ,
    i know about the situation in BCN, but i will come for holidays next week, and my girlfriend as a chronic illness with confirmed 30% of disability and hard pain needs some weed to make it comfortable for her. Do you think it is still possible for her to get a member in any CSC?
    I would like to be rather too if im honest, but it is too late for me i guess, cause i have no confirmed illness or something like that, just a big “weed background” and working with it over a century.
    I didnt leave a honest email, cause of privacy and monitoring. So it would be create if you could leave a comment below mine.

    Thanks for your attention.

    Greetz
    Mr. X

    • Russ Hudson August 6, 2014 at 13:46 - Reply

      Yes, it sounds like your girlfriend may meet the qualifications needed to become a member at a cannabis club. Please email me at russ@marijuanagames.org and we can discuss it in privacy. Peace. -Russ

  4. Chris July 11, 2014 at 17:03 - Reply

    Hey Russ,
    The Zen-Jardin and the 4:20 Club are closed now and won’t reopen so far, right?
    Thanks and peace
    Chris

    • Russ Hudson July 11, 2014 at 17:06 - Reply

      Hi Chris; as far as I am aware, Zen-Jardin was closed permanently. 4:20 on Escudellers is still open, but I believe that 4:20 on Notariat is still closed. Are you a member there, Chris?

      • Chris July 12, 2014 at 09:52 -

        Reply-button didn’t work so I’m doing another comment, sorry Russ..

        Yeah, I signed there a few months ago while travelling through spain with a portuguese friend of mine, now we’re planning another visit of Barcelona this summer and therefor I wanted to do some research about the clubs to be up to date. We loved the 4:20 on Notariat with its beautiful arrangement and entertainment, to go there was a good choice on our roadtrip because we could totally relax ourselves.
        But now I’m wondering if the 4:20 on Escudellers is managed by the same association like the 4:20 on Notariat (actually I don’t think so) and if there is any chance of a reopening?
        Tanks and peace
        Chris

      • Russ Hudson July 12, 2014 at 12:35 -

        Hi Chris; that sucks man. The two 4:20 clubs were totally unrelated, so you will probably need to join another club when you arrive. Fortunately, there are much nicer clubs than 420 and Zen Jardin. 😉 Send me an email the day before you arrive in Barcelona and I will see if I can help. Peace -Russ

  5. wellah July 11, 2014 at 15:12 - Reply

    we’re from the Uk and joined two clubs on a recent visit in june. One down near las ramlas had over 16k members when we joined and this was the club we got hustled to visit on street. The other that we had pre-organised via email prior to our visit only had 3k members and was far superior. Not a regular visitor but am now worried wont be able to renew at the good one.

    peace

    • Russ Hudson July 11, 2014 at 15:20 - Reply

      It’s fine; if you are already a member, this will not affect you. 😉 Peace -Russ

  6. Denis July 8, 2014 at 11:54 - Reply

    Hello Russ.

    I wrote a letter to mail to you about a week ago, but never received a reply. Please tell me whether it is possible to now get the club membership by a citizen of another country?

    Thank you.

    • Russ Hudson July 8, 2014 at 12:19 - Reply

      That’s a complicated and rather general question, but the answer to this is literally in the comments directly below yours. Dual citizens, medical/therapeutic users, people with NIE, etc. can all acquire membership, and there are some other conditions that make it possible as well. I don’t know what your specific situation is so I cannot provide an accurate answer for you. Peace -Russ

  7. Jakob July 1, 2014 at 23:34 - Reply

    Hi Russ,

    Im a current member of a few clubs in Barcelona but am not a local resident. Im am really interested to know if this means my membership wont work anymore or if this new rule just applies to new members. I would be great if you could let me know in particular what Greenage is doing?

    Thanks,

    Jakob

    • Russ Hudson July 2, 2014 at 00:23 - Reply

      Hi Jakob; people who are already members should have no problem using their membership. Green Age should welcome you, as their slogan says, “like family.” This also doesn’t mean that the clubs are closed to foreigners and/or new members. Many people live/work long periods of time throughout the year in Barcelona without being a Spanish national or getting an NIE. They might come to the city many times throughout the year, or stay for 2-3 months at a time every other quarter, etc. So there is still opportunity for new members. Additionally, people with medical or therapeutic cannabis needs may be able to acquire membership, as well as those who meet other conditions. Anyone wondering if their specific circumstances allow them to become a member should contact me directly at russ@marijuanagames.org. Thanks for stopping by, Jakob! Peace -Russ