Many visitors to Barcelona lack clarity on the city’s cannabis legalities, wondering if coffeeshops are legal. Internet searches reveal conflicting information, highlighting the complex nature of marijuana legalization in Spain. This article aims to provide a more comprehensive understanding, acknowledging the nuanced situation while striving for objectivity.
Is marijuana legal in Spain? Briefly
Even though, as I said, it will not be possible to answer briefly and clearly the question, – Is marijuana legal in Spain in 2022?
Long story short, according to the Spanish legislation:
These are the main things that you need to know.
- you can become a member of a cannabis club (it’s not exactly the same thing as a coffeeshop) and you can use cannabis within its walls;
- can you grow legally weed in Spain? Yes, you can grow two plants and consume cannabis on your private space in a way so that strangers cannot see it
Furthermore, the legalization of cannabis in Spain is evident through the widespread availability of seeds for sale. As of 2022, there are more than a thousand shops open throughout the country with accessories, souvenirs, smoking devices and various equipment for home growing.
While cannabis is practically decriminalized in Spain, there are no specific programs for legalizing medicinal cannabis. Additionally, coffeeshops do not operate in their pure form.
Is weed legal in Spain? Сurrent legal status
I should like to apologize in advance for the dry legal wording. I do not like it myself neither, so I will try to keep it to a minimum.
So, what does the Spanish legislation tell us? Is cannabis legal in Barcelona?
- Selling and importing any quantity of cannabis is illegal and it is a criminal offense punishable by imprisonment.
- Acquiring, storing, using marijuana in Spain, as well as hashish and the like in public places is also an offense, but a minor one. In this case, the penalty will be a fine and confiscation of the substance.
Despite the perceived complexity, legal cannabis consumption options exist in Spain. The country has maintained a lenient stance on drugs, and although the exact year of cannabis legalization is unclear, Supreme Court regulations in the 1970s decriminalized the possession of small amounts of illicit substances.
As other benefits of cannabis legalization, Spain has essentially made the marijuana cultivation legal. Globally, the legislation in Spain allows private individuals who consume cannabis to grow the plant for their own personal use. This legislative decree, along with the provision for ‘co-consumption,’ laid the groundwork for cannabis enthusiasts to create social clubs. These clubs center on collective production and distribution of marijuana within the club, exclusively for members’ personal use.
Legal basis of cannabis social clubs
The first cannabis club was founded in 2001. Legal experts have defined several criteria that the marijuana clubs must meet in order to remain in a fairly narrow legal field of and not to fall under the laws relating to the drug trafficking.
These are the stringent regulations governing cannabis clubs:
- “Cannabis clubs must formally register on the regional list of associations, defined in Spanish legislation as a group with a common non-commercial goal. This aligns with Spanish citizens’ right to establish various interest-based associations, forming the legal foundation for the marijuana club model. In legal terms, cannabis clubs in Barcelona are akin to associations like Chess or Hook Knitting Associations.
- Marijuana clubs should strive to reduce the harm associated with the supply and consumption of cannabis. For example, they should encourage responsible consumption. Although I think, most adequate people can do it on their own.
- Cannabis clubs and their premises should be closed to the general public and the membership is only granted with an invitation provided by an existing association member who can guarantee that the person wishing to join is already a marijuana user. This, in particular, is an important distinction between the cannabis clubs and public coffeeshops.
- Limitations on the amount of cannabis consumed must be observed. The clubs keep records of the amount of marijuana received by each member (usually marked on a special individual card) and they set daily or monthly limits.
- The cannabis supplied by an association must be consumed immediately. I think it is clear that this is not a question of puffing everything off in one sitting right at the cash register. It is clear that the cannabis obtained at the club has to be used only within its walls and must not be taken outside.
- Marijuana clubs must operate on a non-profit basis. Cannabis club members pay their dues covering the costs of production and administration of the club, but all the income generated is reinvested. In addition, the clubs, like any other organization, pay rent, taxes, employee social security contributions, corporate income tax and sometimes even VAT (21 %).
The question often arises about growing marijuana at home in Spain, especially in 2020. Yes, it’s legal for personal use, limited to two plants within a private enclosed space. Visibility from public areas can lead to fines, ruling out balconies and windowsills despite the favorable Spanish climate. Without a suitable hidden space, artificial light may be necessary. Managing factors like odor is crucial to prevent neighbor complaints and potential issues.
Is weed legal in Barcelona? Real situation
As far as the laws go, I think, we have gained some understanding – I hope no one has fallen asleep. Now let’s talk about what happens in reality.
In practice, everything is much simpler: these two basic principles for the clubs are critical as they allow them not to fall under the criminal code.
- a marijuana club should be a non-profit organization
- a marijuana club should remain a closed institution
These are really important points that all official cannabis clubs always follow.
These are the strict regulations involved for cannabis clubs. The first point is expressed in the prohibition of using the words related to finance and trade in communication with a budtender. Putting it simply, you can’t simply say “to buy weed” when you choose the buds: instead, you use various neutral words (such as “get”, “take” and similar).
The second point stipulates the mandatory registration. Not one real and legal cannabis club will let you pass further than the reception without showing your identity card and filling out an application form.
This may also include some other nuances related to the ban on advertising the activities of such designated cannabis clubs. You will not be able to contact a marijuana club until you send an application form and receive a return e-mail, which you will have to show when you enter an association. Only after that, the administration will answer your questions.
The most convenient way to send an application is through the club’s page in our catalog. You can use it as a guide around different associations. You, as a consumer, should not worry about any legal marijuana related issues at all. Everything that happens inside the establishments is absolutely legal and safe. So, is pot legal in Spain? Yes, but inside.
Please note that associations only accept cash. If you are wondering how much marijuana costs in Spain, keep in mind that you will need around 20 euros for the membership fee and an average of 10-20 euros per gram of buds.
Black marijuana market
For the sake of a full picture, perhaps it is worth mentioning the black market for marijuana. Thanks to the mild drug policy, in the streets of Barcelona, especially in its center, there are lots of offers to buy marijuana, hashish, and more. And due to the legal alternative in the form of legal “coffeeshops” in Barcelona, very marginal street elements are doing it too. Their target audience are tourists who are not oriented in the local current legal status of marijuana. There are many known cases of travelers being robbed under this pretext.
The black market offers two types of deals: purchasing marijuana directly or visiting fake “cannabis clubs,” often in dim basements. These places are far from legitimate cannabis spots or associations, which resemble coffee places in Barcelona. They capitalize on tourists’ awareness of legal cannabis spots, exploiting their unfamiliarity with the authentic setup.
In both scenarios, the weed quality is poor, and engaging may lead to legal issues as it involves participating in drug trafficking. Deciding on such an adventure in a foreign country is subjective. In my opinion, opting for legal, high-quality weed in a pleasant setting outweighs involvement in street affairs.
The future of cannabis consumer associations in Spain
Authorities differ on marijuana clubs, weed legalization, and cannabis decriminalization, fueling an ongoing debate. One side supports complete legalization, while the opposing view proposes stricter control or even shutting down disorderly cannabis associations, some with thousands of members.
Tensions exist between central Spanish authorities and the Catalonia government. The former insists that cannabis laws in Barcelona should align with national regulations, a stance opposed by the Catalan administration.
In my view, Barcelona’s current cannabis legislation strikes a balance between total prohibition and legalization. Cannabis clubs serve as a model to restrict marijuana availability, especially to vulnerable groups like teenagers (membership is limited to those 18 or 21 years old). Simultaneously, it ensures legal access for adult consumers.
If you are ready to move from theory to practice, we have an article on “How to join a cannabis club“.
Connect with Us
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Embark on your own journey into the heart of Barcelona’s cannabis culture. Join a cannabis club, connect with the community, and discover the unique and enriching experiences that await you.
If you have any further questions or need more information, feel free to explore the links provided or reach out to the respective clubs directly.
Happy exploring and enjoy your cannabis club experience in Barcelona!