The legal status of marijuana in Spain is complicated. There is no legal pathway to access medical cannabis and the legality of recreational cannabis can vary widely depending on the individual situation.
While it is legal to buy seeds and growing equipment, it is illegal to sell cannabis in Spain. Possession and consumption of cannabis are decriminalized, but not explicitly legal. A typical interpretation of the law allows for home grow for private consumption, but cannabis plants growing in places visible to the public are considered an “administrative offense” and can result in hefty fines. No legal penalties come with the possession of or smoking of cannabis, but it cannot be smoked in a public area.
Spain does issue licenses for medical and scientific cannabis research, though these are few and far between.
Cannabis clubs and marijuana laws in Spain
Spain’s cannabis clubs present another unique and rather confusing ripple to the legal status of marijuana in the country.
Spain’s cannabis clubs are establishments similar to the coffee shops of Amsterdam. While they are not technically legal, they operate under the loophole of private consumption. However, these clubs have a few key differences from coffee shops.
First, most of them require membership and the payment of membership fees. Owing to Spain’s complex set of laws around marijuana, many do not advertise publicly, so prospective members must rely on word-of-mouth advertising. Some clubs only allow people who have been referred by previous members, and some only allow Spanish citizens. The common thread between all of them is that members don’t bring their own cannabis. Instead, they purchase cannabis which is sold on-site by the club.
Medical cannabis and marijuana laws in Spain
Spain has no legal provisions for medical professionals to prescribe cannabis. However, the decriminalization of recreational cannabis in Spain and various legal loopholes mean that accessing cannabis is easier than in other places where medical cannabis is illegal. To complicate things further, Spain does cultivate medical cannabis for other countries. Medical Plants S.L.U is one of the companies officially authorized to grow and export medical cannabis flower- but not to supply it to Spanish citizens.
If someone in Spain wants to get medical cannabis, there are several avenues they can pursue. It is possible to get a prescription for Sativex, a THC/CBD oral spray, and Epidolex, a CBD anti-seizure medication. However, prescriptions for these medications are limited by conditions.
Another option for people looking for medical cannabis is to grow it themselves. Spanish law allows the purchase of cultivation equipment and has decriminalized the cultivation of up to two plants for personal use.
Joining a cannabis club is another option, particularly if your condition requires a specific strain or product. If you live in Spain, you could also consider moving to Catalonia. The neighboring, independent jurisdiction has fully legalized cannabis, including recreational cannabis. If you are looking to buy cannabis from local illicit suppliers, the plant is known as ‘ganja’ in Spain
Price of marijuana in Spain
As there are no legal avenues to accessing cannabis, the prices of marijuana in Spain can vary widely. Buying your cannabis from a cannabis club is less expensive than the black market, with prices at clubs starting around $8 per gram. Owing to the large tourist market, cannabis in Spain is usually less expensive than the rest of the EU. With no legal oversight, this pricing also comes with wide variations in quality.
Foreigners and marijuana in Spain
Foreigners can absolutely access cannabis in Spain. With the proliferation of cannabis clubs and the legal allowances for privately owned plants, it’s easier than in many other places to get cannabis. However, it will require some local knowledge and connections. Finding dealers may prove a challenge, as well as gaining membership to the cannabis clubs without a member’s recommendation.
The Cannabis Clubs
In recent years, Spain has rivaled the Netherlands as a European center of available cannabis, by way of the country’s cannabis clubs. These clubs are found all over the country, with a large concentration in Catalonia.
Popular with locals and tourists alike, Spain’s cannabis clubs occupy a sort of legal gray area much like the coffee shops of the Netherlands. Because Spanish law does not ban private consumption, and the clubs have been considered private organizations, they have been able to more or less operate freely. At the same time, the actual growing, transporting, and processing of the marijuana that is available at the clubs is not legal.
To become a member, someone must be sponsored by a current member, though many cannabis clubs allow tourists to become members by way of an initial membership fee, which often goes towards their first purchase. The payments made are considered “donations” to the club, and cannabis is supposed to be sold at cost or a very small markup.
Each club typically has limits on how much cannabis members can produce per month. In addition, members can potentially be stopped by police leaving the club with cannabis – which is technically supposed to be procured solely for on-site consumption.
The Spanish seed bank Dinafem stated in a post that the social cannabis clubs in Spain started in 2001 with the founding of the “Cannabis Tasters Club of Barcelona,” after years of work by activists to fight the prohibition against the public consumption of cannabis. While the exact number of clubs is hard to pin down, there are thought to be around 400 cannabis social clubs in the country, with an estimated 268 clubs in Barcelona alone.
But there is uncertainty ahead for the clubs. In July 2021, the Catalan High Court ruled that cannabis clubs cannot “promote the consumption, sale or cultivation” of cannabis, negating local regulations made by Barcelona lawmakers to allow the clubs to operate. The Guardian quoted Eric Asensio, spokesman for the Federation of Catalan Cannabis Associations as saying that “the majority of associations assume that sooner or later they will be forced to close down.”
The Guardian added that while the cannabis clubs were set up as private clubs where members could buy cannabis to smoke on-site, “in recent years, many have departed from this model to become outlets for the massive quantities of cannabis grown in Catalonia, often under the control of eastern European and other mafias.”
Following the High Court ruling in July, the police have the right to begin shutting down the clubs.
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