The complicated legal situation in Spain with respect to cannabis leaves lots of tourists and locals alike a little bit confused. And rightly so. Technically, marijuana hasn’t been legalized in Spain. Rather, it’s been decriminalized, with the Catalonian region expressing less rigid laws than other regions of Spain. This can mean a lot of different things for someone who just wants to carry some weed around with them.
Technically, it’s still illegal to be in possession of cannabis in a public place anywhere in Spain, including Barcelona. But that doesn’t necessarily mean that you’re in for jail time just because you got caught with a nugget of weed on you. And actually – what does that mean for all the social clubs in Barcelona?
Hopefully, we can answer some of these questions with respect to Catalonian cannabis laws in this article. It’s complicated to say the least, but there are loopholes in the law which have allowed social clubs to keep operating and for residents of Barcelona to continue enjoying looser marijuana laws.
Public Possession is Illegal
One of the most important factors to know about Spanish cannabis law is that it is illegal to purchase, cultivate, possess or use cannabis in a public place. If a person is found in possession of cannabis, they are punishable by confiscation of the product and perhaps a fine, depending on the amount confiscated.
However, it’s important also to know that cannabis is decriminalized for personal use, but is still heavily illegal for commercial use. That means that possession in a public place with an amount that constitutes commercial use can lead to jail time. The sentence is three to six years and depends on the amount of cannabis in possession.
How Do People Get Weed From Social Clubs?
The next, and probably the most reasonable question is how people get weed from the Barcelona social clubs legally. Well, we’ve already talked about the fact that it is legal to consume and share cannabis so long as it’s outside of a commercial context. Social clubs in Barcelona rely on this loophole in the law, and provide only as much cannabis as is demanded by their private members. For this reason, it is considered to be personal cultivation and personal use of marijuana.
Read more: Is It Legal To Grow Weed In Spain?
With that being said, social clubs follow strict regulations to disallow their members from taking cannabis outside of the private club. This is because, in order to be compliant with law, there should be no public possession or use of marijuana. So to save their butts, they make sure that whatever you purchase in the club is smoked in the club.
Now, if a person decides that they want to slip that nugget of weed into their pocket and go back to their apartment, they have put themself in a very vulnerable position. There is no legal protection from the social club and Spanish law states quite clearly that there is to be no public possession of cannabis.
The Difference Between Legalization & Decriminalization
One of the most important things to define here is the difference between legalization and decriminalization. These are legal terms that are thrown around far too often without the due attention to the differences between them.
To give an example of legalization, we can have a look at states like California and Colorado in the USA. These two states have fully legalized the recreational and medical use of marijuana. It means that it is not punishable to grow, use, sell or purchase cannabis, even if it is within the commercial context.
On the contrary, Spain has implemented something like a decriminalization model. It actually means that technically, it’s still illegal to grow, sell, purchase or use marijuana in Spain. THe law does not support it at all. With that being said, decriminalization has meant that there is no real punishable crime if a person is growing or using cannabis for personal reasons.
The reason it is important to know this is because people should still exercise some caution around cannabis in Spain, where it’s not really legalized yet. Even in the case of carrying small amounts of marijuana, it might not result in a prison sentence or criminal offense, but it’s not technically legal.
Advice For Consuming & Possessing Cannabis In Barcelona
In order to stay on the right side of the law, you have to be conscious of a few things in Barcelona. We’re here to help you with that. At the end of the day, we don’t condone any unlawful behaviour and it’s important to know the laws of the different regions of Spain that you will be in. This advice is specifically for those who are living in or visiting Barcelona.
Only purchase cannabis in a Social Club
To avoid any unnecessary prosecution, only purchase cannabis in a social club. If you purchase cannabis on the street from a dealer, it’s in direct violation with Article 368 of the penal code. Buying weed on the street means encouraging or participating in the trafficking of an illegal substance, especially because that dealer would be operating under illegal means.
Consume your cannabis in the social club
It might seem frustrating not to be able to take your cannabis home with you or back to your hotel, but it saves you from a run-in with the law. It’s legal for a person to consume cannabis in the private confines of the social club, but once that cannabis leaves the property, the person loses all protection.
If you must carry, only carry small amounts
If you really can’t resist the urge to carry some cannabis around with you or outside of the social club, don’t let it be too much.The reason for this is that possession may be not be punishable if it the amount qualifies as personal use. However, if you are caught with an amount of marijuana that fits in the parameters of “commercial” use or “trafficking”, then you could be looking at prison time. The best thing you can do for yourself is let all the circumstances point towards personal use.
Don’t smoke weed on the streets
Of course, we all know it’s nice to wander down to the beach and smoke a joint with friends. In Barcelona, this is not okay. It is a punishable offence to consume cannabis in a public place, and if the police catch you they will fine you. Not to mention, they’ll ruin that special moment and confiscate any other weed that you have on your person. That’s not a fun way to end a smoking session, either alone or with friends.
Even if you follow these recommendations, it doesn’t mean that you will be exempt from punishment by the police in the case that you get caught. These are simply guidelines, and the final discretion belongs to the police and the judge.
Will Cannabis Be Legal In Barcelona In The Future?
It has been a long and arduous battle in Barcelona when it comes to marijuana. There are political parties such as Podemos who fight for the legalization of cannabis, which is a step past decriminalization. But despite the rallying by this political party, the Spanish president has expressed nothing but unwillingness to move forward in the cannabis endeavour.
Despite this, Barcelona still keeps its reputation as something like Europe’s second Amsterdam. They are the only two places in Europe where it is legal to enter a coffee shop or social club and consume cannabis. And for that, Barcelona has quite a nice reputation among cannabis enthusiasts.
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