Barcelona the new Amsterdam
When you picture the city of Barcelona, images of small delicious plates of food, salsa dancing, or sandy beaches may spring to mind. This March though, I found myself in the middle of something all together a little bit greener. From the minute I stepped on to the busy “La Rambla” street I could see that this Spanish province had embraced the future in a big way. For years now it has been legal for barca residents to grow and smoke weed (up to 5 plants) in their private residence under the Spanish constitution. Great news for weed enthusiasts in Barcelona of course, and now due to the ever growing population of people who use and enjoy cannabis, this city has been turned into a ganja hub, supporting everything from the patients that swear by this product to the recreational user just wanting to slow life down a little. This has been made possible by a little loophole that allows you to delegate your growing to another person or club, simply signing a small contract can allow anyone to grow for you. Enter the Barcelona Private cannabis clubs.
We stumbled upon ‘420’ whilst wandering around the bustling center of Barcelona. A heavy metal door operated by an intercom lead to a small reception area where we met the owner; Raul. He proceeded to explain the situation we were all in.By signing this Spanish contract you are giving us the right to grow 5 plants on your behalf, pay a €20 yearly membership fee and you can indulge right away. Simple as that!
Indulge we did, the atmosphere in this place was great, big TVs, projectors, PS3. The selection of gear was amazing with everything from dabs to edibles, they even have a volcano you can use. I felt like I landed back in the Dutch red light district, except for a few noticeable and pleasant differences. Combine this leniency in law with the sunniness of the Spanish people and you get a warm comfortable atmosphere and a great vibe. The thought occurred to me that such clubs were less about making money and more of a community, most customers seemed regular and they varied in ages, shapes and nationalities.
Raul sat down with us on the plush leather sofa to explain how the police operate in the area. He said they have been known to stand just around the corner waiting for people to leave the club. He explained that possession of cannabis in public places is still illegal and the Spanish police will not hesitate to impose a fine on you if your caught. He told us the best way to remain in the clear while on holiday would be to leave our stash in their locker facility, safe and sound with them until our next visit. I must say we left the club many times during our stay with large quantities however and never ran into any trouble.
These clubs undergo constant scrutiny by the government and must deal with tight restrictions on how they can bring in new business and promote their presence. These ‘associations’ are not allowed to have a website, for example, and with the DJ both and sound system costing thousands Raul is relying on the legitimacy of his business in order to stay open and avoid penalties. Promoters just outside the small road leading to 420 made up for the lack of hits online, though, bringing in young groups of tourists by the half dozen, luring them in with promises of group offers and warm hot chocolate.
There was a definite love for cannabis in this place, all the staff were experts in their field and seemed to love their jobs, passing around massive joints filled with their newest blends and discussing which brand of organic fertilizer to try next.
I never expected to have such a good time in Barcelona, and I left feeling informed about this tiny undiscovered gem of a weed hub, and longing for the days when my paella filled belly could return.