Barcelona is the new Amsterdam for cannabis tourismby Ivano Abbadessa - 2013.12.13
Barcelona’s cannabis clubs are thriving. Today there are more than 200 compared to just 40 in 2011. This proliferation has made the Spanish city a favourite for tourists looking for a smoke, who are now choosing the Catalan capital over Amsterdam. Not only does it have a better climate, but the marijuana is better value too, compared to what’s on sale in the Netherlands.
It’s a destination recommended by Webehigh.com, a website for marijuana users, which has given Barcelona a maximum score of five. Its scores range from one, meaning that cannabis is illegal and socially disliked, to five if the consumption of marijuana is practically legal.
To become a member of one of these clubs, you have to be introduced by an existing member. This has given rise to a parallel market, with some Barcelona residents making money by helping foreigners gain entry to these exclusive clubs. Cannabis tourism agencies, as they’re called, get most of their custom on the web by advertising their service on forums and international websites. There’s a decent profit in the business, seeing as clubs pay for each new member.
The authorities seem to be aware of this growing business. The city’s authorities have said they want to regulate certain aspects of the clubs, while the central government also intends to introduce regulation. According to some news sources, the Spanish parliament is preparing to present some measures in the early months of 2014 to: restrict the maximum number of members for each club; establish a minimum age for members; and, through transparency, eliminate economic speculation on these clubs.
This shake-up is supported by many Spanish cannabis-user associations, who recognise that many of the clubs have lost sight of their initial mission, which was to provide small, non-profit clubs for cannabis smokers.