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Barcelona Marijuana Users Targeted by Police for Possession

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Police in Barcelona may be conducting a renewed crackdown on the city’s many marijuana enthusiasts. While cannabis in Spain and particularly in Catalonia is legal to varying degrees, possession or consumption of any amount of weed in public is grounds for searches, seizures, fines, harassment and even arrest. In the last week this author has received numerous reports of Barcelona’s police or “Mossos d’Esquadra” targeting people for petty marijuana possession charges. This article discusses two of those cases where details were available, and in both instances the amount of cannabis in question was less than 2 grams. Additionally, in each case the marijuana was acquired legally in a professional private cannabis club.

Case # 1 Location: Decathalon

During the early part of the week of November 9th, 2015 a woman was shopping at one of Barcelona’s many Decathalon sporting goods stores. As she exited the store a merchandise alarm went off at the door. Confused, the woman stepped back into the store where she was questioned and searched by security officers.

Although the woman’s purse did not yield any stolen articles, it did yield a small amount of marijuana; around a gram and a half. When security officials found the weed, they immediately called the police. Shortly afterward uniformed patrol officers arrived and again questioned and searched the woman. They issued her a ticket or “summons” to court for the charge of marijuana possession. During questioning the woman revealed to the officers that she had acquired the weed from a local Barcelona Cannabis Club that she is a member of, although she indicated that the police did not seem interested in this information.

Case #2 Location: Lobby of Apartment Building

A Barcelona resident was walking home on the evening of Friday November 13th 2015. Near his building he was stopped by a friendly stranger, who asked him if he had a weed grinder. Feeling generous and not sensing any danger, the man took the stranger into the lobby of his building and began fishing around in his backpack to produce the grinder. (The man detailed this event in the comments on the following post:

Meanwhile, another stranger approached the door to the building and rang the bell. Thinking it was just one of the building’s residents, the man stopped fishing for the grinder and reached over to open the door. As soon as the door was open, the stranger outside flashed a badge and identified himself as a police officer. The officer was immediately followed into the lobby by three uniformed Mossos d’Esquadra.

The police questioned and searched the man. After finding less than 2 grams of marijuana and the grinder in the man’s backpack, the police picked up a roach from the floor of the building and insinuated that it too belonged to the man, who denied this.

From start to finish the encounter only lasted a few minutes. The police seized the man’s marijuana and left without much fanfare, although it’s not clear at this time if the man was ticketed or not. Interestingly enough, when the police made their exit, they left the justifiably shaken man inside the lobby with the informant who had originally duped the man into being generous enough to lend a stranger his grinder.

This man also obtained his cannabis at a local private cannabis club that he is a member of.

What are the Laws Regarding Marijuana in Barcelona?

Marijuana is legal in Spain, as long as it is only small amounts for personal use, and as long as its use, production and consumption occurs in private locations only. This means that for most people, it is only legal to possess and use cannabis in Spain in the privacy of their own home, or in a private cannabis social club or association. Even transporting marijuana from one of these locations to another is not safe; once a person is on public property such as a road or sidewalk, they are subject to search and seizure.

So, to summarize; marijuana laws in Spain allow you to grow and consume cannabis on private property only, and you must do so out of view of the public. You must also ensure that the smoke from your joints, bongs or pipes does not escape your private residence or club and bother anyone; once your smoke leaves an agreeable private place, it is considered “public” and therefore illegal. This means that if you are smoking on the balcony of your flat in Barcelona and a neighbor asks you to stop, you should comply. If they call the police – and they often do – you will be in violation of the law.

For people who acquire their marijuana from private cannabis clubs, it is important to remember two things;

  1. Always transport cannabis products in your undergarments; Spanish police cannot search there without a judge’s order
  2. Never reveal that you acquired your cannabis from a private cannabis club

What to do if you are caught with Marijuana in Barcelona

If you are caught with marijuana in Barcelona (or anywhere in Spain), it’s important to stay calm; after all, the worst thing that is going to happen (provided you are only carrying a small amount for personal use) is that you will get a ticket and an associated fine. If you are a member of a professional private club, you should take that ticket to the club’s attorneys and let them handle it. Even though most clubs are legitimate, legal entities, it is critical that you never tell the police that you acquired the weed at a club.

Have you ever been stopped and searched for marijuana in Barcelona? Let us know in the comments, or send me an email and please provide as many details as possible about the event.

Russ Hudson
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12 thoughts on “Barcelona Marijuana Users Targeted by Police for Possession

  1. Hi there, read your blog with interest. Are you still based in Barcelona? Any news about possible legalization for recreation use? Do you know what the different fines are for 2-10g? Thanks!

  2. This happened to me earlier was stopped by two undercover officers who flashed an Id escorted us around the corner and asked if we had any weed on us, which I did in my bag so admitted right away. They then asked if we got it from a coffee shop and if we were residents or studying which we weren’t, they then told us the first time is a warning + confiscation and second time is a 300 euro fine and the 3rd time is jail. They then searched us took a photo of my passport and my parents names and also told us to show our balls on the main road to make sure there was nothing else and sent us on our way and told us not to go back to the coffee shops area today as him and his “mates” are operating in the area lol

    1. Wow, that’s completely out of line. Police cannot search your private areas in Spain without a sworn warrant issued by a magistrate. Additionally, there is no “jail” for personal possession of cannabis, as it is not a crime, so these cops lied to you. Did the conversation happen in Spanish or English?

  3. Hello Russ!

    Thank you for the article! This is the most helpful thing I have found on the internet. I am American and have recently been caught my the Spanish Police with marijuana. I wasn’t the smartest and I had it in my overnight bag on a bus traveling through Murcia. They had a dog come on the bus and immediately found out what I had. It was such an embarrassing time, and they didn’t give me much information on what would happen to me. They took my passport number, my address in Spain, and asked for my parents names (???). They told me to expect a fine by mail, but didn’t leave me with any paperwork to contact them if I had any questions.

    It was just under 2 grams, and I am wondering how “hefty” you assume this fine may be? I am also considering renewing my student visa to continue working as a language assistant in Spain. Will this harm my application process? I’m quite worried! Sorry if I sound flustered in the comment. Thanks in advance!

    1. Hola Jane; I also got your email, but I am going to respond here so that others can find the information. What you went through is the typical Spanish policy for small amounts of cannabis. The police never give any documentation, but you will get a fine in the mail. For 2 grams, the fine will be around 400 Euro. If you pay it, no problem; it is NOT a crime to get caught with cannabis in Spain. If you don’t pay the fine, you may or may not have administrative problems later on. It’s better to just pay it and be done with it. In the future, when you travel outside of a private environment in Spain while carrying cannabis, ensure that you put the items in your undergarments; police cannot search there without a warrant. 😉 Best wishes Peace -Russ

      1. Russ,

        Thank you for the swift reply and giving me a peace of mind!
        Spanish Police: 1
        Jane: 0
        Now I know! And now I have a new blog to look at! Thanks again

  4. Hi Jakub,

    I’m an American living in Zaragoza and I’ve been doing some research on this topic recently as I am interested in joking a club here. I gotta say, this was the best written and had the most information provided on the subject so thanks for that!!

    The one question I was left with was regarding the law about the police searching undergarments. Is that in fact true? If so, can you provide a link to that law (can be in Spanish) or any references on it?

    If that is the case, couldn’t a female walk out of the club with whatever she purchased in her bra, and therefore not get searched?

    All of my friends who are members say that they never have issues with police but I still don’t want to have to pay a fine of 500 euros should I get caught!!

    Thanks in advance for the answer!

  5. stories like these cause me to despair of Europe ever regaining its status as a liberal society. Spain still appears to have overall the most liberal policies concerning cannabis but with so many examples of police harassment over such trivial usage (i.e. not large quantities, openly smoking etc) it would seem they are just desperate for revenue or on some absurd mission to keep the public in a constant state of fear and paranoia. What to do?

  6. Great article. I’m an American who traveled to Barca on a tour of Europe last summer. I was in fact a member of one these clubs and they were actually very strict on not leaving with any product itself. When I arrived actually about a 1/3 of the clubs had been shutdown the week prior as some were operating essentially like Dutch coffeeshops. There was one instance where an Australian girl sat next to me and chatted me up and told me she was trying to leave with some nugs as her friends were not members..Though I never left with any, when I finally did leave the club the employees thought I was with her and asked to search me and my knapsack as they didn’t want use leaving any as that could lose their license with accordance with the law. It was a fine situation, consuming on premise as I don’t believe I had any other places to consume as I was staying at a hostel. In addition the clubs function as a way for foreign tourists to connect and interact with each other. So I suppose the best method for tourists/ travelers is to stay and consume on premise in the club itself be either buds, wax or edibles.

    1. Hola Nash; thanks for sharing this information! Would you mind telling us what club you are referring to? I want to see if they are still open and if they still enforce this policy. It’s a little overkill and is based on fearful interpretation of the law, but I am still interested to learn about clubs that operate responsibly. Also, the other reason I ask is that it seems strange that the club openly allowed foreigners, but would not allow them to leave with cannabis. I have never heard of a club that would not allow its members to take cannabis off-property, so your story interests me greatly. Thanks mate! Peace -Russ

  7. Hi Russ, happened to me about 3-4 weeks ago when I was walking out of La Mesa, with 5 grams in my undergarments. I was looking for something to eat and was walking around the blocks in that area. Suddenly, about 10 mins after I left La Mesa, I was surrounded by 3 undercover cops. They were probably watching me since I left the club, since they approached my from all angles in that street – it must have been well coordinated. They came to me, showed their badge and asked me if I have marijuana several times. I tried to remain calm and said no several times to them as well.. They searched me obviously, but could not do anything as it was hidden next to my balls. Maybe they felt it, they were looking behind my trousers (just not touching anything there), no idea if they saw it really and just could not do anything. Anyway, they let me go with their sad faces. I then went back to La Mesa to inform the staff about what has happened and to warn them to be careful during that day.

    I go there every week for about 11 months now and this the first time it happened to me.

    1. Hi Jakub! Wow, excellent job following the protocol mate! The fact that you had the weed in your undergarments saved you from serious harassment and a hefty fine. Thank you for letting us know; this just goes to show that if you are careful and responsible, you can utilize the cannabis clubs in Barcelona in safety. Peace -Russ

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