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Spain’s Smokers Clubs on the Rise as Legislation Catches up with Reality

Maureen Meehan

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Most people have heard wonderful stories about Barcelona and many of them are probably true. The Spanish city on the Mediterranean with its mild temperatures, wide avenues and awesome art and architecture, including Picasso and Gaudí, also hosts hundreds of private “Smokers Clubs.”

If you can find them—they’re discreetly located—you’d be welcome to join for a small donation (they are non-profit), for which you’ll be given a membership card and the right to smoke as much pot as you’d like, inside the club.

To avoid the so-called drug tourism that Amsterdam sorely complains about, some clubs have a waiting period to smoke, unless you’re sponsored by a member or friend. And, yes, Spaniards are very friendly people.

Smokers clubs have sprung up in most of Spain’s major cities, especially Barcelona, which is seen as the country’s cannabis center.

According to estimates, the number of clubs in Spain has jumped from 40 in 2010 to 800 today. With a full menu of products to choose from, some clubs control the whole process, from seed to distribution, and produce their own varieties.

Spain is made up of 17 independent regions that enjoy a great deal of autonomy from the central government, therefore each region can set its own laws regarding weed.

In the Catalan region, where Barcelona is the capital, the question of full legalization was recently placed before the Catalonian parliament and stands an excellent chance of passing.

Spain, traditionally extremely relaxed on pot smoking, is viewed as one of the most marijuana-friendly countries in Europe.

In that Spanish laws regarding cannabis do not apply to homes and private spaces, growing small amounts on a balcony or window box is very popular in the country where sunshine is prevalent a good part of the year. As long as you don’t sell it—not even to your friends—the “three plants per household” theory, which is probably a myth, seems to be holding.

While Spain’s Criminal Code allows for private consumption, smoking in public is prohibited.

However, smoking in public is not an offense the Spanish police seem to be on the lookout for, as it’s rare to walk down the streets of Madrid or Barcelona and not smell weed in the air—day or night and across generations.

“It is not an enforcement priority for us,” a Spanish police officer told HIGH TIMES. “If parents don’t want their children to smoke pot, they should deal with it at home. We have bigger fish to fry.”

“Also, the criminal activity that comes with cocaine trafficking is a much bigger concern for us than pot,” he added, referring to the fact that Spain is major entry point into Europe for drug smugglers from South America

From the unsolicited advice department: When you visit Spain, stick to the clubs or private places. There is more than enough pot to go around, so you never have to carry much on your person.

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