In a landmark ruling the Criminal Chamber of the Spanish Supreme Court has found that two directors of a cannabis social club were not breaking the law and should be acquitted. The pair were initially charged with the production and trafficking of cannabis, but the judge said that all the legal requirements for the formation of such a club, including registration with the authorities were fulfilled. In other words, the cannabis club is legal.
This finding will come as encouraging news to Spain’s cannabis social club members across the country who will be assured of legal protection and safe operation.
How do cannabis clubs work?
The Guardian reports that cannabis clubs are turning Spain into the “Holland of the South”. But although this makes a good headline, it’s not strictly true. Hundreds of legal cannabis clubs have been opened in Barcelona alone since it became possible to register a club, and getting membership usually requires an introduction from an existing member.
Regulations are far from lax, and cover everything from the cultivation of cannabis to its transport, as well as who would be eligible for a cannabis club membership. Cannabis tourism is being nipped in the bus through a regulation stating that club members must be Spanish citizens over the age of 21 and that they should hold membership for at least 15 days before being allowed to use marijuana. Clubs also have to register the plants they grow, making themselves open to inspection by government agencies.
Other regulations include limitations set on the amount of cannabis that can be given to a single user in a month, but since this is in the range of 60 – 80 grams, most club members are satisfied with the ruling, which should merely prevent resale of marijuana obtained through a cannabis club.
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You get cannabis, but you don’t buy it
Cannabis clubs are true private clubs. Marijuana is not sold, but the costs of running the club are shared between members, and this includes the costs of cultivation of the plants as well as the cost of maintaining the club’s premises.
A cannabis club therefore works on the same basis as any other social club such as a garden club – members pay a subscription fee and share knowledge, experience, and in this case, cannabis. But the clubs have proved to be extremely popular, hence the need for careful regulation by the authorities.
Definitely not “Holland” in Spain
The differences between Holland’s coffee shops and Spain’s cannabis clubs are therefore clear-cut. In Holland, anyone of legal age may walk into a coffee shop and buy cannabis, and the atmosphere has been compared to that of a bar, while in Spain, only members have access, and there is no commercial profiteering based on cannabis sales.
Will Spain pave the way for other countries?
Spain’s experiment may well provide other countries with a model that will allow regulation of cannabis rather than its complete prohibition. Through trial and error, and landmark legal findings such as the one featured in this article, a viable way of taking cannabis out of the hands of the black market could be developed. In Spain, a cannabis club is legal – as long as it sticks to the rules. Would you like to see cannabis clubs in your country?