The lack of national laws
Who knows what is going to happen with cannabis clubs in Spain? Nobody knows it. Having no national laws, each region has their own politics which are inconsistent and confuse. In Spain there are a bit more than 800 cannabis clubs. Spain has to face this situation with unity and strength. In order to obtain a sustainable model, users, politicians, citizens and professionals of the cannabis industry must fight together. Depending on the province where the club is located, the members can be allowed to continue with their activity or they can be arrested. Spain is divided in autonomous communities and each one is more or less permissive. But, anyway, the problem is the lack of a clear national law about the problem.
During most part of the modern history of Spain, the authorities have been quite permissive with marijuana users and growers. But lately the situation is getting worse and the laws more strict. Even though the situation, in theory, remains the same, in 1992 a new law was approved to fine and/or arrest people who were using drugs in public places. This law took Spain to the cannabis revolution that is living nowadays.
In 1994 was born ARSEC ( Ramón Santos association for cannabis studies). The same year ARSEC cultivated 200 plants . The plants were retired by the police and the members were arrested. The members spent few months in prison and they were given an important fine. ARSEC was born in Catalonia.
But this sentence was considered an attack against the civil freedom. Several activist got together to fight back the sentence. One of these associations cultivated more plants to protest. But the movement was considered equally illegal and the police asked the court the order to arrest and cut all the plants. This happened in the Basque Country and the club was named Kalamudia.
But this time the situation changed completely and the court allowed the club to continue with its activity. The plants were not cut and nobody was arrested. This fact gave the activists and clubs the strength enough to continue with their activity for several years. This fact ended with the opening of what is known now as the Club of cannabis tasters of Barcelona. It was the year 2001.
Evolution of the club model in Spain
Barcelona Tasters Club was the first club that offered a private space to its members where they could enjoy the cannabis cultivated by them. Before that moment the clubs were meant exclusively to distribute cannabis among the members. But they couldn’t smoke it in the club. The CCCB and others clubs opened a way to the emergence of a rich cannabis culture.
The growth of the concept was quite shy in the beginning. And they had occasionally problems with the police. In 2009 there were 200 clubs in Barcelona and some others in the rest of Catalonia. A big problem was starting to appear.
Between 2012 and 2015 dozens of clubs started to work all over the country. Many clubs PANNAGH, Green Lemon, 3 monkeys, María de Gracia, La Mesa,ABCDA and others) were accused of “crime against public health” or “illegal association” and many people were arrested and given severe fines. It was then when the police came to know that clubs couldn’t be accused of drugs trafficking.
Most of the cases were won by the clubs. But they won when the court was in their province. But when the prosecutor appealed to the upper national court the situation changed and they lost the cause. Anyway, the sentences were not too severe.
Cannabis clubs in Spain are based in two constitutional guarantees: right to privacy and right of association.
The first right allows Spaniards to consume drugs in private. In theory this right allows you to cultivate marijuana at home or in private for personal use. But it doesn’t specify the quantity.
The right of association allows the citizens to get together and be organized in groups. If they get together to cultivate and consume marijuana in private is legal according to the Constitution. But even though these rights are protected by the Constitution, the central Government doesn’t allow them. Spanish Constitution allows these clubs “in theory”. But the regional Governments have the last word.
Only the autonomous community of Navarra has specific laws for these clubs. But the Central Government doesn’t accept it. Some activists are trying to force the Government to regulate the clubs.
The new Government (Socialist Party and its partners) are talking about the legalization of cannabis. They have talked about to convert Spain in a reference in Europe. But so far, the situation of cannabis clubs remains confuse and uncertain.