Barcelona's cannabis clubs at risk of closure after Court ruling.

Liz Filmer
29 Jul 2021

Barcelona's cannabis clubs (asociaciónes) could be facing closure following the supreme court's decision to remove a legal loophole. Until now, the Catalan city has allowed the 200 clubs to operate without interference, helping Barcelona establish itself as one of the top destinations for cannabis tourism in Europe. 

Back In 2017, the supreme court overruled the Catalan parliaments decision that  "private consumption of cannabis by adults is part of the fundamental right to free personal development and freedom of conscience".

Cannabis Clubs have continued to operate in the region, thanks to a bylaw whereby the city of Barcelona has regulated their use. Unfortunately, though, this bylaw has now also been overturned.

Why? Because the judges at the supreme court ruled that Barcelona's authorities were not competent enough to set out legislation on matters governed by the state. The Catalonia region is home to 70% of Spain's cannabis clubs, the majority of which can be found within Barcelona's city limits.

The latest ruling outlaws "the sale, consumption or promotion of cannabis". The City of Barcelona supports the semi-legal status of its cannabis clubs but has informed owners that it would have to start inspecting the clubs shortly. 

The original idea of the cannabis associations wasn't based on the sale or promotion of cannabis. It was based on a closed circle of members who set up a private club to share weed and smoke on the premises.

As it stands now, the landscape has shifted somewhat. Many clubs have sprung up that are much more commercial and are believed to be selling vast quantities of cannabis grown in cannabis farms in Catalonia, some of which are suspected to be under the control of organised crime gangs from Spain and Eastern Europe. Tourists can easily access the clubs in exchange for a membership fee of around 10 euros. 

The Supreme courts judgment is in direct contrast to the opinions of the city authorities and the police, who agree that the cannabis clubs help reduce street dealing and public consumption problems.

"The judiciary is attacking the associations without taking into account the reality of Barcelona, a city that has co-existed with these entities for more than 30 years,"- The federation of Catalan Cannabis Associations. 

The city council are currently looking to find a legislative solution with the support of the Federation of Catalan Cannabis Associations.

Pro-legalisation commentators have warned that the decision will only encourage illegal markets and a rise in associated violent crime within the city. It is also feared that the closure of clubs could negatively affect many related businesses such as legal growers, geneticists, hemp producers, conservation banks and CBD companies.

Liz Filmer