The rise of cannabis clubs in Spain

Cannabis campaigners in Spain are moving more and more towards the forefront of cannabis legalization. In an article in The Guardian, the president of Madrid’s first social cannabis club ‘Paracuellos de Jarama’, Pedro Álvaro Zamora explains the workings:

"We've been open for two months and we already have 125 members. ()...This is not Amsterdam, this is not a coffee shop. This is our association's club house and it is a private place. It is not open for everyone."

Members of such private clubs pay an annual fee (in Zamora’s club the membership costs € 120 a year) and the club follows certain rules. Not everyone can become a member. Potential members are interviewed and sometimes denied a membership, if they ‘don’t fit the profile’.

Spain does not have a law banning consumption in private and members claim it is safer to use the club than go out to parks and smoke in public. Zamora said: "The club recognises that cannabis is not good for everyone. We propose a responsible form of consumption. Not everyone should smoke. We know there are risks." Club members can bring their own cannabis or share in the club's own stock. They can even take some away as long as they sign for it and the cannabis is for personal consumption.

However, the owners of private cannabis clubs often run into problems when it comes to supplying the club. After all, dealing in cannabis is still illegal. And so is the cultivation. "We are fighting for the legal right to grow it," said Zamora. The club applied for a medical licence to cultivate cannabis but was turned down. Then police raided its secret plantation and destroyed the plants.

The club also campaigns on laws. "Prohibition does not work. Cannabis has been consumed for centuries and will continue to be … for centuries. Prohibition creates an illegal market and all that brings with it. It's better to educate people than spend money on prohibition that fails."

Read more:

The Guardian - Cannabis clubs plug a gap in Spanish drugs laws
Cannabis clubs in Spain legal - Belgium forms 1st club recently
ENCOD - Manual to create a cannabis social club