As a long-term cannabis smoker, I’ve smoked plenty of joints in risqué situations. I’ve smoked in all areas of the UK, in every type of situation I can think of. Brighton, Cardiff, Portsmouth, Leeds and plenty of other towns and cities. I’ve visited underground cannabis clubs in London and venues in Bristol and Birmingham where the laws are just completely ignored by everyone – including the management. Conversely, I’ve also blazed up in places where it was not only frowned upon, but also could have got me in a lot of trouble. When you’re already breaking the law, what does it matter if you’re also being blatant? Not faultless logic, but the life of a habitual smoker nonetheless.
I’m also no stranger to smoking up a joint in a foreign country. Whether it’s Italy, U.S.A, Egypt or France. I’ve had my fair share of experiences of flouting the law in a country where I’m not a native. To be completely honest, every single one of these situations was frustrating and not desirable. Yet I was also surrounded by people of all nationalities smoking cannabis as well. The laws across the planet regarding cannabis consumption are archaic and unhelpful. But that’s a discussion for another time. Instead, I’m going to tell you how I learnt about the relaxed cannabis laws in Spain and more specifically in the Catalan capital of Barcelona.
The Start of My Marijuana Odyssey
I’m originally from the UK and I initially travelled abroad to do a ski season in the French alps. I had a lovely time, but for multiple reasons too long and dull to go into here, I left and headed to Spain. I caught a lift share to Lyon from the Alps and then took an overnight bus to Barcelona. After around 8 hours on an uncomfortable bus with no sleep, I watched the sun come up out of the window and we hit the beautiful city I have come to know as BCN. There was a little bit of rain that night and I can still remember the fresh smell of the concrete streets when I stepped off the bus. Excited, tired, carrying everything I owned (including a guitar) and with a few basic phrases in Spanish – I headed to my hostel.
I had pre-planned a little for my trip and organised a volunteering position in a hostel near the Arc de Triumf. I was blown away by how beautiful and clean Barcelona was and I was looking forward to spending an open-ended amount of time here. I was living with a crew of other volunteers and felt like I was truly blessed to have landed in such a sweet situation. The other volunteers were a range of different nationalities; Argentinians, Chilean, Mexican, Italians, Russian and one New Zealander. All had taken different paths in life to get here and everyone had interesting stories. One thing united us all though: we all loved to a have a party. The hostel was an ever-changing landscape of nationalities, so everyday felt like a new adventure. With each passing day we got to know each other better and became more comfortable with each other.
Getting Stoned in Barcelona
I hadn’t thought about weed since I arrived in BCN and knew nothing about cannabis clubs in Barcelona at this point. I was about to be pleasantly surprised. I knew both Portugal and Spain had different laws to the UK, but the finer points of this situation had passed me by completely.
One sunny day I went to meet a few of the other volunteers at the Parc de la Ciutadella. I had finished my shift for the day and we were going to play frisbee in the park. As I approached my friends, the normal situation that appears in public parks lay before me. Lots of people all enjoying the sun and enjoying beers. As I got closer my nose perked up and I encountered a very familiar smell. The scent of high-grade cannabis. My favourite! I had been in BCN a few weeks and this was the first time I had realised my friends smoked weed. As I approached and sat down the spliff was pointed at me and I heard a word I was going to become familiar with: “Porro?”. As I took my first drag the warm, comforting thug of cannabis inebriation hit me and I went to my warm and happy place. We spent the next few hours playing frisbee and listening to the reggaeton that the street hawkers were playing from their massive portable speaker. It was a good day.
Learning More About Cannabis Culture in Catalonia
Shortly after I realised that all my friends had weed. All of them. It wasn’t often pulled out in public, but they all had their own stash. I started enquiring with each of them where they got it and they all gave the same answer. They were all members of Barcelona cannabis clubs. One of my friends had even been a promoter for a few coffeeshops. If guests from the hostel asked him where they could get weed, he would invite them to become a member of one of the clubs he was a member at. Some cannabis clubs would give him a spliff or two for the effort as a thank you. Not strictly the way cannabis clubs in Barcelona are supposed to work, but still a harmless system and one that benefited everyone involved.
I don’t think the other volunteers were being secretive because they were worried about how I would react, but more what our hostel managers would say. It was technically illegal for us to have it as we didn’t officially live there, our hostel was essentially a public place. It also wasn’t being blatantly smoked all the time because they would often just go to the cannabis cafes to get high. After a few spliffs on the streets and being reintroduced to the sense of paranoia that street blazing induces, I decided to do some investigation about the laws on cannabis clubs in Barcelona.
My first port of call was the internet. “Wow” I thought to myself. There was so much information available and so many cannabis clubs in Barcelona. In London, you are never more than a few feet away from a rat. In Barcelona, you are never more than a few streets away from a cannabis coffeeshop. It is mind-blowing how many options you have as a cannabis smoker in Barcelona. When I discovered this, I was hit by a wave of realisation I have only previously experienced in Amsterdam. I was finally in a place where I could smoke cannabis without fear… or was I? I needed to experience it for myself before I could feel truly comfortable.
My First Cannabis Club Membership in Barcelona
I did more research and decided Dragon cannabis club was going to be my first port of call. This was its old location, where ‘13’ is now located at the top of El Born. It was really close to where I was staying and seemed to have good reviews online, so I went for it and made my application. As it happened my New Zealand friend was already a member there. I mentioned it to him on the off-chance he had heard of it. When we realised we were members at the same cannabis club, we decided to go together. As he was a regular visitor he introduced me to the staff he knew and then we got something to smoke. My first legal strain of weed in Barcelona was a classic Amnesia Haze.
I really liked Dragon Cannabis Club on my first visit. It was airy, well lit, full of friendly faces and they had some good strains of weed and hash. I finally felt like I was in a part of the world with a healthy approach to cannabis consumption. No one was acting dangerously or getting paranoid because of the police. Everyone was just getting high and laughing with their friends. It was my first taste of a cannabis utopia and I loved it.
I visited DCC a few times, often after my cleaning shifts. It was good to hit a strong Indica after doing strenuous dirty work! After a few visits though I noticed their propensity to play trap music – or at least let the guests play trap music. Not the nice relaxed kind either, the aggressive rap type. It perplexed me a little, bearing in mind how crime free and friendly Barcelona seems to be. This isn’t London or LA. BCN has a very different feel to other major cities. I had made the decision to visit some more clubs, resigned to the fact that I would have to pay a membership fee again.
Exploring More Weed Coffeeshops in BCN
I was invited to two more cannabis clubs by my hostel friends and applied for membership at two more. I was lucky that a few of the cannabis clubs didn’t even charge me membership. If you’re invited by someone they like, who is a native Spanish speaker, I found they often won’t charge you the membership fee. Maybe I was just lucky though – who knows!
My general impression of cannabis clubs in Barcelona is that they are awesome! There is a habit of playing quite heavy trap music in a few weed cafes in BCN. Not ideal if that’s not your first choice of music. It does make it even more enjoyable when you find a BCN cannabis club that plays music you like. I often say MBC ( Marihuana Barcelona Club) is my favourite cannabis club in Barcelona, largely because their music selection is excellent. A nice mix of techno, classics and hip-hop. It really makes the atmosphere for me.
My Opinion of Cannabis Clubs in Spain
I’ve visited even more cannabis clubs in Barcelona since those early days of weed liberation. These days I write reviews and articles about Barcelona cannabis culture and have learnt even more about the nuanced laws and rules surrounding cannabis culture in Barcelona. I think it is an excellent system. It doesn’t publicly encourage cannabis consumption, but it does make it a lot safer for people who do want to smoke. You always know what you are buying is good quality and unlikely to be tampered with in a negative way. The last thing the cannabis clubs in BCN want is for members to be reporting them for doing wrong, so many try their hardest to provide high-quality weed and environments.
I met someone from Colorado in one cannabis club and he told me it was a better system than they had in the U.S. There you can buy weed, but you have nowhere indoors to smoke it apart from your own home. In Barcelona you have a social place where you can smoke and meet new people. It pushes it into a social domain instead of isolating you. Smoking cannabis should be a public ally accepted and social activity in my opinion. Forcing people to smoke by themselves at home leads to move addictive behavioural patterns and isn’t good for your mental health.
Overall my opinion of cannabis clubs in Barcelona, and across Spain in general, is that it’s serious progress. The rules aren’t ideal – as anyone who has been caught with cannabis on the streets of BCN will tell you – but it’s still better than many other countries. As I write this, the laws in the UK have just changed for medicinal cannabis use and Canada has just fully legalised cannabis – the second country in the world to do so. We have come a long way in the last few years, but we have a long way to go. Let’s hope that other governments of the world will see sense and stop penalising people who want to make use of a product that grows naturally across the planet.
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