Barcelona – Catalan Cannabis Culture
In my latest series of blogs for Freedom Seeds I have been writing about cannabis around the world and the places and people I have been lucky enough to meet along the way. At the beginning of 2014 I was able to go and spend some time in Barcelona and get to know the cannabis scene and industry there. My time in Barcelona has had a profound effect on me, making me much more confident. Spain is a great place to visit - as well as the cannabis I really enjoyed the weather, the scenery and the food!
Spain has an odd grey area system when it comes to cannabis laws, which the pro-independence region of Catalonia has taken full advantage of. The Spanish constitution protects individual liberties on private property. As the constitution is the highest law of the land (pun intended) it effectively means that this “trumps” the law prohibiting cannabis, so that in practice cannabis can be consumed in private. This has had a big impact across the whole of Spain including Barcelona. When I was there in March there were rumoured to be over 300 cannabis clubs in the city, which means there was roughly 100 more clubs than Amsterdam has coffee shops making it a very canna friendly city.
Cannabis friendly in some senses but not in all – the Spanish police are much like their UK equivalents and can stop and search you. If caught with cannabis on you a hefty fine of 1000 Euros comes with it.
The constitution protects you in the clubs and on private property but crucially not in public. Many of the clubs had a safe where you can store your medicine before you leave, it is worth pointing out that although Barcelona is a great place for cannabis enthusiasts it is by no means perfect. It is not like Amsterdam where you can just walk in off the street and join. Any club I am now a member of I had to know an existing member. Now the rules have changed even further to try and crack down on the emerging cannabis tourist trade which is sprouting up.
In 2010 my diagnosis MS took away much of who I was and closed many doors to me. But through cannabis many other new doors have been opened and it’s great to feel a sense of purpose again. I was a musician and my band and promotion company was my life so I found it very hard to let that go for a long time. Through medical cannabis and the cannabis industry those wounds have healed and I have a new purpose in life!
Barcelona has a system which is great for patients who live there and means that they get access to the medicine that they need. I found myself feeling ever more confident and at ease with myself being there. Having the option of going to a club to medicate opened up the world to me and I made the most of it and saw much of the city and surrounding areas.
Patients need a place to go to be able to use their medicine and the clubs in Barcelona provide just that! It’s not perfect by any means but it is much better than things in the UK. You get a choice of decent strains at very affordable prices, it works out at about half the price of Amsterdam.
In conclusion Barcelona is a great city and the patients who live there are among the luckiest patients in Europe. They have access to the medicine that they need and they also have access to a social life which is of course very important for anyone. But especially patients who otherwise could become quite isolated. Barcelona truly is a beautiful city and one which I'm looking forward to visiting again soon.