La Mesa Cannabis Club Goes Up in Smoke

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For a large part of the cannabis social club community in Barcelona, the end of an era has come. La Mesa cannabis club has gone through the final stages of a club that is being pressured out of existence by authorities; a shocking conviction after years in court, the refusal of new members, removal of all cannabis products, and now the final General Assembly of socios will be held and the club subsequently closed in the coming days. This article details the life and times of La Mesa cannabis club in an effort to help people understand what happened as we prepare to say goodbye to our friends and family on Carrer del Rec in El Borne.

Disclaimer: Consider this piece an Editorial. There is no chance that I can write this article with impartiality considering my connections and friendships with many members, staff and the management of La Mesa. I will try to state facts only and allow readers to form their own conclusion, but I want to be clear that I am personally affected by this closure; La Mesa was like a second home to me and there probably won’t be anything like it again.

Member area at La Mesa cannabis social club Barcelona

The Life and Times of La Mesa Cannabis Club

La Mesa was started by two Dutch friends in 2012. The concept of the club is found in the name; La Mesa, or, The Table, was founded as a place for intelligent and progressive people to socialize, share, create and work in an environment where they could safely consume cannabis. To firmly root this concept in the association, La Mesa commissioned two huge tables made from steel and reclaimed floor planks from another time.

The founders of La Mesa worked with local cannabis industry attorneys to develop a strong Articles of Association, which was submitted to and then approved by the local District Attorney’s office in Barcelona. This clearly identified La Mesa as a cannabis social club that intended to systematically cultivate and distribute cannabis to its members. After applying for and receiving proper tax status as a legitimate business, La Mesa officially opened at a time when around 300 other cannabis clubs were flourishing in Catalonia.

To most, La Mesa didn’t seem remarkable at first.

Acting under the advice and operational guidance of attorneys who drew from hundreds of other cases where smoker’s associations in Spain had been permitted to operate, La Mesa began to produce high quality cannabis for its members. With the core concept of The Table as a meeting place of minds and hearts blended with an impressive offering of fine cannabis products, it shouldn’t have come as a surprise that La Mesa’s member base quickly grew. This included a large percentage of medical marijuana users, as well as people of all types: artists, doctors, teachers, designers, writers, attorneys, and even a surprising number of police officers.

Far table at La Mesa Cannabis Club

Although it wasn’t known at the time, the fact that many of these members were experienced cannabis connoisseurs was – in a way – the beginning of the problems for the club. Requiring on average around 60-120 grams of high-quality cannabis per person per month, La Mesa had to rapidly adjust its cultivation operations to support its member’s needs. The Association expanded its grow efforts and experimented with cloning and other methods of safer, cleaner and more efficient production. Still in its first year, the club and its members had a lot to learn, but they almost didn’t get the chance.

Before the club’s first anniversary, authorities conducted a large-scale raid on the association’s cultivation center, seizing whole cannabis plants, clones, equipment and supplies and arresting several members who were working in the center at the time. In keeping with the general accepted legal practice, the founding members – the President and the Secretary – were charged with a variety of crimes including drug trafficking.

Despite this huge loss, La Mesa continued with business as usual in El Born. Members came and went, collecting their share of other harvests the club had produced, and the police did not bother them. Still believing that it was operating safely within the law, La Mesa’s attorneys prepared to fight the charges while the club concentrated on providing for its members.

Four years passed…

Four years passed with numerous continuances and delays in the courts. Despite this trouble La Mesa grew and its reputation as one of the highest quality cannabis social clubs in Barcelona spread.

Long Leather couches at La Mesa Barcelona

The Beginning of the End was in the Beginning

By 2016 La Mesa was widely considered to be the best cannabis club in Barcelona. Despite the ongoing court case, there was no other trouble with the club for 4 years and La Mesa flourished. With excellent recreational and medical cannabis products and a social environment that attracted legions of brilliant and beautiful people, it really wasn’t a surprise that La Mesa grew so quickly. But just as the association of cannabis users was really coming into its own, in April of this year the judge’s hammer finally fell and ruled that the founders were doing nothing more than drug trafficking.

The sentence? 5 years in prison.

Here’s where things get muddled; La Mesa’s attorneys didn’t provide any documentation or evidence that La Mesa was a legitimate cannabis association providing for its members under the closed-circle doctrine. In fact, in a preposterous twist of irony, the judges ruled that La Mesa as an association didn’t exist and therefore the cultivation center was nothing more than a marijuana trafficking operation…consequently, they ordered that the founders of the association serve 5 years in prison and that the club must be closed.

Dispensary at La Mesa Barcelona

Yes, you read that right. The club that does not exist must be closed.

This situation has created some contention in the cannabis community in Barcelona, because many feel that La Mesa’s attorneys were negligent by not providing evidence that the club existed with members sufficient enough to support the cultivation center as raided and shut down in 2012. However, the head attorney of this firm had won 7 previous cases in this manner and had been confident that La Mesa’s case would be similarly won. The ruling against the association and the lengthy prison sentence was a shock to the attorneys and the club’s Board, as well as to others in the field who were watching the case, myself included.

When the judges handed down the sentence against the Board and ordered the club shut, initially La Mesa resisted and remained open to its members, keeping regular hours in El Born, just off Marques de l’Argentera. But with the smoker’s association in the news, the authorities in the city quickly focused their attention on the club. Last week at least 2 members were followed and harassed by undercover agents outside of the club. In one of the cases, I interviewed the member immediately following the search. This member indicated that the agents were dressed in civilian clothing and followed him as he left the club and walked toward Placa de Palau. At the next crossing the agents stopped the man and his girlfriend, immediately asking;

You have some marijuana on you, yes? Give it to us.

After interviewing this member at Placa de Palau, I walked back to La Mesa and witnessed virtually the same thing happening to another member who was getting on his motorbike outside the club. The undercover agents in this case also immediately demanded the man hand over cannabis.

One of the members in question uses cannabis medically to treat Crohn’s disease.

Couches at La Mesa social club

The same week police showed up at La Mesa early in the day asking if a certain person was a member there. This was likely a probe, as later that day police came to the club again and questioned the manager for 45 minutes about the Board of Directors, specifically wanting to know if the Board had been changed as required by the court. By then the former president and secretary had indeed been replaced and were in the process of preparing for their defense at the Supreme Court in Madrid.

In response to the court ruling and the additional pressure applied by local authorities, La Mesa stopped taking new members and pulled all of the association’s products out of the dispensary. Members were still permitted to go to the club and hang out, but now a final General Assembly of members has been ordered by the Board. To be held on Monday, the 9th of May at 19:30, a vote among members will be taken to determine the club’s specific fate, with a general fate almost certainly consisting of a complete and permanent closure of La Mesa cannabis club.

My Personal and Professional Thoughts

As a longtime member of La Mesa, I can say with confidence both personally and professionally that the club was special. The welcoming atmosphere and the forging of friendships that occurred there on Carrer del Rec was unprecedented; I’ve not seen anything like it anywhere else in any country. The people behind La Mesa brought their concept of The Table to life and I’ll never forget the countless hours I’ve spent sitting at one of those great tables, talking with friends about matters of substance, getting lost in hundreds of games of chess with people that I genuinely enjoyed being with, and of course consuming my part of the club’s harvests.

La Mesa exemplified precisely what a cannabis social club should be.

It’s said that all good things must end, but to me that’s nonsense. All things come to an end; good and bad. So while it seems like the good days of La Mesa are over for now, we know that the bad days will come to an end as well. Let’s hope that the founders of La Mesa aren’t locked in a cage away from their families for 5 years over a plant. Let’s hope the association of people that was La Mesa can reincarnate itself in some other way, or even in some other place. Because ultimately, La Mesa had a spirit, and that spirit was in its members. We’re all still here.

Outside La Mesa Cannabis Club Barcelona

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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

39 Comments on "La Mesa Cannabis Club Goes Up in Smoke"

  1. Celino Santos April 5, 2017 at 20:36 - Reply

    I still cannot believe it. I had such an amazing time in La Mesa. Best club ever, I have met so many good people there. Such a shame 🙁

    • Russ Hudson April 6, 2017 at 08:39 - Reply

      Indeed! It was a very sad time for all of us, but the good news is that the Board has been granted a new trail and probably won’t go to jail! 😉 See you around! Peace -Russ

  2. Angry Spanishguy January 14, 2017 at 20:09 - Reply

    Cannabis clubs here in Spain MUST BE NO PROFIT, and these guys were making a lot of money so…have a good time in jail!

    • Russ Hudson January 14, 2017 at 22:56 - Reply

      You have no fucking clue what you’re talking about. The court case had ZERO to do with “profit,” so I suggest you check your facts next time before you make your raging idiocy publicly known. I wouldn’t wish prison on anyone, including you, ‘ya fuckin’ ignorant twat. -Russ Hudson

  3. baby December 22, 2016 at 11:49 - Reply

    hola russ la mesa canabis club han cerrado permanentemente ? no estan mas ?? 🙁 T___T im like tt

  4. daniel trapp November 21, 2016 at 17:18 - Reply

    Hi Russ, I travel a lot and have just found out! I had €80 on my La Mesa card which is a real shame … I live in Poblenou … any chance of a new hookup?

    • Russ Hudson November 22, 2016 at 13:08 - Reply

      Hi Daniel; sorry mate, La Mesa sent out emails to all members for several weeks advising them of the situation and requesting people to come and clear their accounts for refunds and to attend the General Assembly. In any case, I can sponsor you at a new club, please email me at russ@marijuanagames.org to discuss. Peace -Russ

  5. Alex October 10, 2016 at 13:42 - Reply

    Yoi gents,

    Any updates on the situation? Visiting Barcelona right now, it is really sad to hear all that stuff happening

    • Russ Hudson October 11, 2016 at 08:02 - Reply

      Hi Alex; no updates, La Mesa was permanently closed. Everything else in the city is normal.

  6. Ace October 6, 2016 at 22:38 - Reply

    What happened to the original association president? Was he jailed really? If so that is sad!

  7. LDub September 17, 2016 at 22:54 - Reply

    Will any other clubs accept la mesa membership?

    • Russ Hudson September 18, 2016 at 22:15 - Reply

      No sorry, all clubs in Spain are individual private associations; membership at one club does not have any bearing on membership at another club.

  8. Laura July 22, 2016 at 14:32 - Reply

    This is such sad news, myself and my partner were members of la Mesa, we also visited some other cannabis clubs while in Barcelona. I can honestly say la Mesa was by far the best and most professional. I would much rather have a quiet and friendly cannabis club as a neighbour than a bar or club! I will continue to tell people how great la Mesa was!

    • Russ Hudson July 22, 2016 at 16:55 - Reply

      I agree wholeheartedly, Laura. Thank you for your comments. Peace -Russ

  9. Jennifer Porker July 20, 2016 at 08:10 - Reply

    Hi, Russ!

    I was very sorry to hear of the closing of La Mesa. Thank you for filling us in on the history and current demise of this successful cultural experiment. We enjoyed this place and made some very nice friends we will have for life.

    Create peace!
    Jennifer

  10. NANCY RIES June 25, 2016 at 18:44 - Reply

    La Mesa was a wonderful example of how cannabis social clubs could work without connecting to the black market…but rather similar to The Prohibition years of alcohol, the unenlightened ‘authorities’, (apparently not having any heinous murders, government corruption, kidnappings or rapes to pursue), decide to use citizens’ tax dollars to go after…a plant…., a plant which has been proved medically to cure cancer. Hm. Ya think Big Pharma had anything to do with this? The Board of Directors of the big pharmaceutical companies do not want grassroots competition. Pun intended. They are greedy fucking bastards, and they definitely do not want to lose control of anything that can ease pain or disease if it detracts from the weight of their wallets. ….But…people all over the world are united in the cannabis revolution, together with revolutionizing big pharma controls over our health…and big pharma will therefor die, very soon. …This La Mesa shut-down was nothing more than a group of bullies with their grip on the balls of the court system, trying as a last ditch effort, to incite fear and paranoia in the hope of maintaining their tyranny….They won’t win against the will of the people, and they know it.

  11. Mr Nice June 3, 2016 at 15:53 - Reply

    It is the worst message i got this year yet. I became a member of La Mesa in 2014, and spent hours there and i really enjoyed the unique atmosphere. La Mesa was really special and offered awesome weed and extracts. I had great conversations with the staff and other members, i will never forget the conversation with the guy behind the “bar” about G13. Im missing the club already.
    Ty again for inviting me in 2014 Russ, without your invitation i would have never been there and never met all the nice people.
    I will keep my fingers crossed for the owners and there trial, jah bless you!

    Allow me one question Russ, have you heard something about chasing the members and staff too, because it was “drug trafficking” or are just the owners involved?

    If i will be back in BCN i will need a new invitation 😉

    Regards

  12. Abram May 30, 2016 at 05:28 - Reply

    Hey Russ, i’m a member of La Messa from Indonesia. Considering the news, should i apply the new membership to another Club? Currently
    I’m in Amsterdam airport and on my way to Barcelona. Thank you for your kindness Russ

  13. Kevin May 17, 2016 at 13:56 - Reply

    I have been at the last day at the La Mesa, but i did not really understand the staff (because of my bad english). Now your article helps me to understand why the club has been closed. I am very sad, it was my favourite club, La Mesa was my second home in Barcelona.The staff was the nicest, they had evertime very good mood. Thank you for everything La Mesa staff. Maybe we will meet at another club. I will never forget the time I have spent at the club.

    Rest in Peace

  14. Art May 15, 2016 at 17:27 - Reply

    *THAN in any coffeeshop 🙂

  15. Art May 15, 2016 at 16:12 - Reply

    Just came back from Amsterdam and was talking with my friends about how much nicer in every aspect it was at La Mesa club then in any coffeeshops I visited last week. And now I see this! 🙁 Sad. that place was really awesome.
    Didn’t really get the part where

    “The head attorney of this firm had won 7 previous cases in this manner and had been confident that La Mesa’s case would be similarly won. The ruling against the association and the lengthy prison sentence was a shock to the attorneys and the club’s Board…”

    In what manner exactly?
    Have they tried offering them money? Just asking!

    Anyway, I hope, with help from community and you Russ, the two dutch friends will sort out this crazy bullshit.

    Thank you for the article, Russ!

  16. Sam May 13, 2016 at 08:01 - Reply

    I received the newsletter of closure and it was a shock! I have been a member in la mesa since 2014 and i can honestly say that barcelona lost one of its pillars in socio clubs! I am a bit worried on the whole socio club in spain / barcelona. If la Mesa can be closed then it’s a warning signal for all clubs! Something must be done yo ensure that does not happen to others.
    I have to say that i cannot express how sad i feel, similarly to russ i have been a member of a spirit not only a club. From staff to members, i will miss this place.
    Thx Russ for the article, and if anything us members can do plz let us know.
    Our fight for complete legalisation is long, but you can bet that we will stand firm behind our belief until the end.
    Sam

    • Russ Hudson May 15, 2016 at 00:17 - Reply

      Thanks, Sam. Let’s keep in mind that this situation is pretty isolated to La Mesa and stems from a 2012 court case, so for the most part other clubs should be fine as long as they are not breaking the “rules…” If you ever need to join a similar club, hit me up. Peace -Russ

  17. Spliffmeister May 12, 2016 at 19:47 - Reply

    Great piece Russ, for such a great place. Was only a member for a year or so, but a really great bunch of people in there and some fine evenings. Truly gutted, and hoping that the 5 year thing doesn’t come to fruition, and I echo the petition sentiments.

    La Mesa is dead, long live La Mesa!!

  18. Kristen May 12, 2016 at 15:57 - Reply

    I ditto all the responses posted. Wonder if the current political situation with the mayor has entered this. 5 years is terrible. The whole scene regarding pot is so ridiculous. Why can’t governments say Yes and stick with it instead of having folks play these games? Its the same in the US. Many states have decriminalized it but
    …you just can’t purchase it. Except in Colorado. Thanks to Russ and to the good folks at LA Mesa. I’d sign a petition if there is one.

    • Russ Hudson May 15, 2016 at 00:15 - Reply

      Thanks, Kristen. If a petition is started I will post it here and on my Facebook. Peace -Russ

  19. Philipp May 10, 2016 at 14:01 - Reply

    Im so sad because of reading this, was a proud member since 2014. This club was one of the nicest and friendliest places i´ve ever been. Thank you for the great time and see you again! I hope it will be possible to find another club like this in such a nice neighbourhood!

    • Russ Hudson May 15, 2016 at 00:11 - Reply

      Thanks for your comment Philipp. Peace -Russ

  20. Jakub May 9, 2016 at 17:08 - Reply

    Hi Russ,

    thanks for the article, this is sad indeed. I was receiving some messages from La Mesa, but did not really understand what was going on. I was harassed by police when going out of La Mesa some months ago, I guess they were putting some focus on the club already at that time…

    What I’m curious about – do you think this will have any impact on other clubs in Barcelona, or is this just a La Mesa – specific issue related to their attorneys not providing some documents?

    Thanks,
    Jakub

    • Russ Hudson May 9, 2016 at 19:29 - Reply

      Hola Jakub; this is basically a case of delayed court proceedings, stemming from 2012. So it’s really not related to the current situation. But all clubs should be on notice. Everyone should be careful. Members should always place cannabis in their undergarments, and they should never discuss where they acquire the cannabis with authorities. Thanks for your comment mate, hope to see you around. Peace -Russ

  21. Tracey harris May 9, 2016 at 15:45 - Reply

    What a great piece of writing Russ. This is so sad. Hope to meet u all again some place some where. Take care x

  22. Jeyda May 9, 2016 at 15:41 - Reply

    Was a privilege to be part of la Mesa am very upset by this and would be happy to join or sign a petition. Great report Russ and thank you

    • Russ Hudson May 9, 2016 at 19:25 - Reply

      Thanks, Jeyda. We had the final assembly tonight and the club will close in a few days. Hope to see you somewhere else sometime! Peace -Russ

  23. Ed May 9, 2016 at 11:50 - Reply

    Good article Russ, huge shame and am absolute travesty of justice.