Cannabis Social Clubs are tolerated in most regions of Spain. In Catalonia and in the Basque Country, the clubs work hand-in-hand with local politicians and governments that have established a set of rules for such establishments. The federal courts, on the other hand, have not yet made a clear statement, and therefore, the local authorities determine how openly a cannabis social club can operate. The clubs that have been active in some areas for more than a decade adhere to self-imposed regulation.
Cannabis Social Club Rules:
Cultivation, transport, distribution, and consumption are subject to security checks and quality controls.
Advertising such as signs in shop windows is not permitted.
The members finance the club by means of membership fees for all expenses like growing, the club rooms, and the staff's salary.
Trading cannabis is prohibited. Members may not to sell cannabis or encourage others, especially minors, to consume.
Unlike the cannabis collectives of California and Canada, cannabis social clubs are not restricted to the medical use of cannabis only.
In most clubs in Spain, a member must be at least 21 years of age. However, some clubs set their age limit as low as 18, while others have increased it to 25.
Most Spanish clubs currently cap their membership at 200 members.
Each new member must be recommended by a current member.
Patients can be admitted without a member's endorsement if they have a doctor's recommendation, regardless of the club's membership limit.
To be a club member, one must specify how much cannabis she/he smokes, eats, or vaporizes during one month. The club needs that information to calculate the amount of cannabis the club's gardeners must grow.
The personal maximum amount of cannabis allowed per month varies from club to club but is usually between 30 and 100 monthly grams per member.
Special Case: The Canary Islands
There are an estimated 4,000-5,000 cannabis social clubs throughout Spain. Most operate in the Basque Country, Catalonia, and on the Canary Islands. The climatic conditions on these seven islands, which are upstream from the African continent, are different than on the mainland. The central government is 2,000 km away, there is no value-added tax, and the climate is ideal for the cultivation of cannabis. With so many new clubs opening over the last few years, politicians in Parliament called for a cannabis regulation model in May of 2017.
In Los Cristianos and Las Americas, Tenerife's tourist hotspot to the south, there are already more than a handful cannabis clubs. On the Canary Islands you can find a cannabis club in most towns, and altogether the seven islands feature more than 140 clubs. But none of those many clubs serve as a hotspot for tourists from the UK, Germany, Belgium or Italy. This is certainly one of the main reasons why the clubs may receive official legal status after years of toleration. Politicians want these clubs to be regulated, but not to attract cannabis tourists.
At present, common consumption, transfer and cultivation in private areas is largely tolerated thanks to a law from 1977, but the transport remains a delicate legal matter because it takes place in the public space. From time to time, police bust clubs and close them temporarily due to a violation of the yet-unwritten rules, but they never question the existence of such clubs.
The "Asociacion Club Medical THC"
The clubs on the busy beach promenade are so inconspicuous that they are rarely discovered by the purveyors of package tourists. Young EU citizens, who have settled on the islands as seasonal forces, are regular visitors to the clubs. Short-term tourists, unlike in Amsterdam or Barcelona, rarely enjoy the opportunity to meet a club member who would take them to “their” club. Whoever, on the other hand, works as a driver, bartender, or a cleaning person in the area will sooner or later meet someone who can offer membership to a cannabis social club.
The "Asociacion Club Medical THC" (ACM-THC) is one such cozy retreat located right on the beach of Los Americas in Tenerife. The menu in the ACM-THC includes 20 outdoor strains and 25 indoor strains, as well as several varieties of ice hash, extracts, edibles and infused skin creams. The current best sellers are the infused chocolate joints (US-patent pending) with 40 or 80 mg THC, which are handmade in the club's small kitchen from in-house extracts and high-quality dark chocolate.
Due to the climate, it is often difficult to differentiate between the outdoor and indoor strains solely by their range of potency. In addition to cozy rooms for consumption, the club offers its members numerous cultivating or refining workshops, cooking classes, musical shows, sports facilities, and much more.
Last but not least, the climate and proximity to Morocco are responsible for the popularity of cannabis on the seven islands. With a little artificial water supply, cannabis in this region thrives. Due to the island's geographic location, those who work with pre-mature cuttings can harvest up to four times a year and simple blackening techniques even yield up to six harvests.
But the observance of the above-mentioned rules seems to be more important than the proverbial rule of law. The cannabis culture on the Canary Islands is characterized by well-organized clubs that, without making profits, offer their members good quality cannabis, a lot of fun, and many other opportunities.
Photos courtesy of Johann Anderson