In Barcelona a conflict has occurred between the Municipal Guard and cannabis clubs as a result of the rise of cannabis associations and the flood of cannabis tourists. These businesses are coming under growing pressure as a result of the city’s continuing investigation, EL PAIS reports. Even though Barcelona has long been seen as a sign of tolerance toward cannabis use because of its vibrant culture and open-mindedness.
A brief history of cannabis clubs in Barcelona
The first cannabis club opened in Spain in 1991. It has set the way for the development of similar clubs in Barcelona in 2011. Currently, there are more than 200 clubs in the city. There are around 1,000 across Catalonia and 2,000 throughout the rest of Spain. Following the introduction of laws in 2015 and an urban ordinance in 2016 the government responded to the growth of these clubs. These legislations set minimum separations between clubs and areas like playgrounds and schools. Later legal challenges, however, made these rules unconstitutional.
The Constitutional Court set down the Catalan legislation on cannabis consumers in September 2018. It highlighted then that only criminal laws could control the drug. It raised it to an issue for the national government. The Municipal Guard accelerated the monitoring after the High Court of Justice of Catalonia further banned the promotion of consumption, sale, and cultivation inside certain areas in July 2021.
The closure of several clubs and plantations is the result of the local police allocating resources to enforce these regulations. Benito Granados, the main supervisor of the Municipal Guard, claims that the clubs should only serve as an advising or informative resource in accordance with the court’s directives.
According to sources inside the Municipal Guard, the pressure used by the administration on the clubs varies. Surprisingly it depends on which party controls each district’s government. Different councillors from different parties have adopted a variety of strategies. Some have been permissive, while others have concentrated on administrative and licensing concerns. Numerous clubs are hesitant to get attention or interact with the City Council as a result of this dynamics.
Inside the Barcelona’s Cannabis Clubs
Currently a cannabis club’s closure is a difficult process that frequently takes more than a year because of administrative requirements and the participation of several city districts. The clubs are forced to manage dealing with criminal cases that have been allowed by the courts while continuing to adhere to fire prevention laws, permits, and other administrative obligations.
Despite the challenges that they face, some clubs keep going to operate discreetly, adapting to both locals and tourists. EL PAIS was able to enter one of these clubs, which was hidden by a normal facade. Visitors are welcomed with a pub-like setting inside, complete with televisions, music, and a small bar with a “dispensary” that offers a wide selection of more than 50 different cannabis strains. The bartender offers suggestions to consumers based on his or her expertise of the various strains and their effects.
Cannabis activist Albert Tió, a former president of the Federation of Self-Regulated Cannabis Associations of Catalonia (Fedcac), claims that the clubs provide quality control and harm reduction strategies that make consumption safe. Tió highlights the necessity of legislation to stop street trading from becoming the sole option if clubs are gone. He does admit that certain clubs in Barcelona break the law, especially when it comes to cannabis tourists.
The clubs are ready to fight back against the institutional attack, according to Eric Asensio of the Federation of Cannabis Associations of Catalonia (CATFAC). He also promises that they will preserve their legal rights through administrative action and legal appeals.
The future of Barcelona’s Cannabis Clubs
As Barcelona increases its focus on cannabis clubs, the battle between authorities, associations, and activists continues on. Legal, administrative, and political forces struggle over the city’s cannabis usage laws, thus, the future of these businesses is in doubt.
It is critical to find a balance. Worth consideration is preserving city’s reputation as a liberal city. However it is also important to address the issues related to cannabis tourists in Barcelona and the operations of these organisations. To guarantee that the cannabis clubs may function within the restrictions of the law the city must negotiate a difficult environment. Clubs, however, still should encourage responsible usage and focus on limiting any negative effects.
There are a few possible options. First is reviewing rules in Barcelona and start working with cannabis associations to create standards for responsible operations. Moreover, authorities can look into opportunities for licensed and regulated cannabis tourism. It will need open communication, careful consideration of public health and safety issues. Additionally, important is understanding of the financial advantages connected with the cannabis sector to achieve this balance.
Barcelona’s response to cannabis clubs will ultimately impact the city’s character and status as a worldwide travel destination. Maintaining tolerance and cultural diversity while managing cannabis tourism and cannabis organisations is a tricky task. Only time will tell if Barcelona is able to effectively negotiate this difficult ground and come up with a workable and fair solution that benefits all parties.