New ruling by the Supreme Court of Catalonia closed the legal loophole and there is a good chance that Cannabis Clubs in Valencia, as well as clubs in Catalonia and the rest of Spain, will be closed in the near future.
There has always been a loophole in the law that allows people to buy and smoke marijuana freely in Barcelona’s “clubes cannábicos” or “asociaciones cannábicas.” But, no more.
Catalonia’s Supreme Court has now closed that loophole, overturning a 2016 Barcelona City Council regulation that allowed the clubs to operate in the city.
As a result of the decision, the associations might be forced to close their doors.
Sometimes called Europe’s cannabis capital, Barcelona has become known for its pioneering cannabis social club model, which has been widely used in Catalonia over the past decade. More than 70 percent of Spain’s total cannabis clubs are located in Barcelona, and their number is at the moment estimated from 200 to 350.
Marijuana clubs in Barcelona are organised as ‘private associations’, you are not allowed simply to walk in and buy cannabis like you would do in Amsterdam’s coffee shops, where people can buy cannabis and its derivatives without any restriction.
According to current legislations, associations are not allowed to accept new members, once they are formed, and they can distribute only what they produce (in the heart of the model is “fact” that growers have come together and formed an association that will look after their interests) . Obviously, none of them produce anything, and their membership has been growing constantly.
In the beginning, membership was restricted to Spanish residents over the age of 21 who had been introduced by an existing member. But, today, if you want to join a cannabis club in Barcelona, you don’t need to be Spanish
No law prohibits foreigners from joining the club at this time; you only need to confirm that you are invited. Members of cannabis clubs must be part of a “closed group” according to the law.
This loose “interpretation of law” was a reason why these clubs existed, but, it looks like it will also lead to the demise of cannabis associations after years of legal battle.
The decision by the Supreme Court of Catalonia made this model illegal, and revoked cannabis associations’ licenses. Since there is no other regulative in this matter, unlike in other European countries, and government never bothered to regulate the use of cannabis in Spain, there is no space for maneuver left
Owners and members of the associations are not surprised by the turn of events. Eric Asensio, a spokesman for the Federation of Cannabis Associations of Catalonia, said that “most associations assumed that sooner or later they would have to seal the premises”
“The entities will not give up,” he said, but they won’t be able to continue operating as they do today.
According to the original model, cannabis associations were not intended to be the places for sale or promotion of cannabis, but rather for places where you can share marijuana grown by the same grower and smoke on-site.
Of course, many have strayed from the original model and associations turned into sales outlets for the massive quantities of cannabis grown in Catalonia, often under the control of mafias.
In the aftermath of the court’s decision, Spain’s legalization advocates warn that the ruling will encourage illicit markets and “open the door for organized crime groups to infiltrate the cities with practices that generate different types of violence.”
“The private use of cannabis by adults is an option that forms part of the exercise of the fundamental rights to free development of personality and freedom,” explains Federation of Cannabis Associations of Catalonia (Catfac) in their latest petition collecting signatures to fight against the ruling.
The closure of clubs will also affect hemp growers, hemp producers, genetic experimentation, conservation banks, and CBD initiative promoters.
Despite their opposition to the clubs, city and police officials have admitted that the clubs are an effective way to reduce street drug use and consumption. Now, this is going to change, and surely, for worse.
Despite the fact that this is a ruling from Catalonia’s Supreme Court, it will most likely affect Cannabis clubs in Valencia – about ten of them at the moment – as well as clubs throughout Spain. We still have to wait to see when and how the police will enforce this decision in our city.