As a consultant working with cannabis clubs in Barcelona, Spain, I could fill a small book with myths that I’ve heard about how things work here in Catalunya and beyond. Instead, I’ll detail just the 14 most common myths that people believe about Barcelona cannabis social clubs, and I’ll describe the reality of how things actually work in Spain’s private cannabis associations.
Myth #1: Cannabis is Legal in Spain
No, it’s not. While cannabis has never been criminalized at the personal possession or cultivation level in Spain, trafficking in cannabis is still considered a crime. Additionally, display or use of cannabis in any amount in public will result in seizure of whatever you’ve got, and a hefty fine. It is only acceptable to use or possess cannabis in small amounts in a private place – your home, a friend’s home, or a private Barcelona cannabis club.
Myth #2: Spain has a Good Medical Marijuana Program
No, it doesn’t. Spain has no medical marijuana program, has not a single law that permits cannabis use, does not permit doctors to prescribe cannabis, nor furnish pharmacies to dispense it. Cannabis use in Spain is cultural, and therefore most people don’t feel the need to push the medical agenda. Additionally, most people in Spain mix tobacco with their cannabis, which makes it difficult to argue for medical use. I’ve covered this in one of my most controversial posts, How Europe is Getting it Wrong on Cannabis.
Myth #3: Cannabis is FREE with Membership
No, it’s not. Most cannabis clubs in Barcelona require members to pay a yearly membership fee to help offset expenses made by the club. This fee is a membership fee only, and does not entitle the member to free cannabis. Members reimburse the club for cannabis grown on their behalf, in addition to the membership fee.
Myth #4: The Clubs are Shady
No, they’re not. Most of Barcelona’s cannabis social clubs are professional, safe places. In fact, because they are private and can only be accessed via secured doors by members who have identification and their membership card present, they’re probably safer than most businesses in Catalunya. Most of the time, it’s hardly discernible that a cannabis club is in a neighborhood, as these establishments are discreet and very careful not to disturb neighbors. Violent crime rarely if ever occurs inside these clubs.
Myth #5: You Can Just Walk In and Join
No, you can’t. To exist under the letter of the law, cannabis clubs in Barcelona MUST be private. New members can only join by sponsorship or referrals from existing members. Cannabis clubs that allow people to walk in off the street are public places, not private, and as such they are subject to police activity including forced closure, arrests, and prison sentences.
Myth #6: Clubs ONLY Sell Spanish Cannabis
This is not true. Marijuana clubs in Barcelona sell cannabis from all over the world. In fact, one club almost exclusively sells US strains grown in the US. Others focus on Dutch strains, but overall most clubs have a good variety of cannabis from different parts of the world.
Myth #7: You can get as Much Cannabis as You Need
No, you can’t. You can usually only acquire 5 grams per day, with a maximum between 80 to 200 grams per month in total. While there are no laws in this regard, this tends to be the policy at most Barcelona cannabis associations.
Myth #8: Clubs Are Sources for Other Drugs
No, they’re not. The standing policy at most cannabis social clubs in Barcelona is that any member caught displaying, sharing, selling, or being under the influence of other drugs besides cannabis are to be immediately expelled and their membership permanently revoked.
Myth #9: You Can Get Arrested for being a Cannabis Club Member
No, you can’t. As a regular member, there is almost no chance that you will be arrested for your association with the club. If you’re a member of the 3-person Board of Directors, an employee, or management, then you could face arrest, but even so, jail sentences are almost never handed down. As a regular member, you have nothing to worry about.
Myth #10: The Authorities in your Home Country will be Notified
No, they won’t. Each cannabis club in Barcelona is a private entity dedicated to protecting the security of its members. Each club shares no information with no other entity; especially not government entities. The government and authorities have absolutely NO access to the member information of private cannabis clubs, and in fact authorities cannot even enter a club without a judge’s specific order. As a consultant, I have observed a number of information purge systems in place at some clubs, which is designed to immediately encrypt and/or terminate sensitive data.
Myth #11: You Will Have Problems with Visa Issues
No, you won’t, see Myth #10.
Myth #12: You Cannot take Cannabis from the Club for 15 Days After Joining
Not true. This policy has been suggested at several times in the last 5 years, and was included as part of the La Rosa Verde legislation in Catalunya, which was scrapped by federal authorities when the region lost its semi-autonomous status. Fortunately, most clubs never agreed to nor instituted this policy, and most allow members to acquire cannabis from the day they register as a legitimate new member.
Myth #13: You Cannot take Cannabis Outside of the Club
Not true. Members are generally advised to place any cannabis products acquired in the club in their undergarments when they exit the club, as police cannot search there without a warrant. But in a public setting, such as out on the street or in a park, privacy protections regarding cannabis do not apply, and police can search you, seize your weed, and fine you. Nearly all members take cannabis out of the club, and no clubs that I have ever heard of require members to leave the cannabis inside the club.
Myth #14: Barcelona is the New Amsterdam
No, it’s not. Let’s compare Barcelona versus Amsterdam: in Amsterdam, anyone can enter a public coffeeshop and buy weed. In Barcelona, the cannabis clubs are totally private. In Amsterdam, patrons are not encouraged to stay long; turn ‘em and burn ‘em is the name of the game. In Barcelona, members are encouraged to stay as long as they like and to develop strong bonds and relationships with other members. In Amsterdam, it’s grey and/or raining outside nearly every day. In Barcelona, it’s sunny nearly every day. Just because there is a system in place for people to acquire cannabis in one city doesn’t make it anything like another city with a different system for cannabis acquisition.
Did I miss any Barcelona cannabis club myths? Let me know in the comments section below.
***Note: Feature image is of a statue in Placa Catalunya