Exploring Cannabis Culture in Barcelona, Spain

“Barcelona, archives of courtesy, shelter of the foreigners, hospital of the poor, father-land of the brave, the vengeance of the offended and pleasant correspondence of firm friendship, and in the site, and in beauty, unique.” – Miguel de Cervantes

In the next part of our series on cannabis culture, we’ll be looking at Barcelona. Remember that cannabis culture is the way that cannabis can be perceived and treated within a society, city or country.  This includes the separate regulations regarding individua cannabinoids that we find in the plant like CBD vs THC. In our next stop we look at the capital city of Catalonia, an autonomous region of Spain; the home of fantastic football, awesome architecture and a growing weed culture, Barcelona: With the rise of Barcelona Cannabis clubs, what secrets can we find in this jewel of the mediterranean?

Whether you’re talking about the US, Europe, or anywhere else in the world, cannabis culture can vary significantly. To learn about laws across the globe, make sure to subscribe to The Medical Cannabis Weekly Newsletter, your hub for all things cannabis-related.


Barcelona is found on the northeastern coast of Spain, but it is also the capital city of the autonomous region of Catalonia, a region in a constant battle for independence from the rest of the nation. Because of this Barcelona has quite a unique and different feel to other Spanish cities. It is home to 4.8 million people, making it one of the largest cities in europe. It is also one of the most visited by tourest, being the fifth biggest tourist city in Europe. It is home to a happening hipster scene and has inspired multiple songs and movies and artworks before. Famously, Freddy mercury sang of its beauty in his hit solo song, ‘Barcelona’.   

“Barcelona, Such a beautiful horizon, Barcelona, Like a jewel in the sun! Viva Brcelona!

Here are some of the top places to visit in Barcelona, the beautiful horizon, some famous sites and scenes to see:

Basílica de la Sagrada Família

Located in the northern part of the city this iconic neo-gothic church dominates the skyline, as well as the souvenir stands. Designed by Antoni Gaudi, who started the project in 1883, the huge church was only supposed to take 10-15 years to build, but ended up being a lot longer, still being under construction today. This is a must see for anyone in Barcelona and is guaranteed to take your breath away. 

The Gothic Quarter (Barri Gòtic)

Don’t get lost in this medieval maze of ancient streets, one of the oldest parts of Barcelona, the gothic quarter has been a religious centre for hundreds of years. There is evidence of Roman and medieval architecture and in the centre of it all stands the Catedral de la Santa Cruz y Santa Eulalia, a spectacular cathedral. You can also find the Picasso museum and be serenaded by some classical Spanish guitar whilst you walk. There are also some fantastic bars and pubs down these streets.

Las Ramblas 

The main central street in Barcelona, full of tourists, but still a mainstay for any new visitor. A beautiful high street with old school bars and restaurants to suit everyone, all shaded by the boulevard of beautiful trees.

Cannabis in Barcelona 

So what is the cannabis culture like in Barcelona, what do the people of this beautiful city thing about the plant? Is it an important part of its culture? Well the truth is, it is. Barcelona is rapidly growing into one of the most important cities in Europe when it comes to weed. With over 200 specialised cannabis clubs, it’s clear to see that the city is taking Cannabis culture seriously. These cannabis clubs are an exciting development for European cannabis culture in general as they are bars where you can work, drink, play some pool but also legally smoke cannabis. The technicalities on the law in Barcelona are a little more complex, but we will discuss that below. With so many Cannabis clubs to choose from it is important to understand how they operate and which are often recommended as the best. An important thing to note is that to go to a Cannabis club you must be a member. So, let’s unpick the law in Barcelona around Cannabis.

Is It Legal?

For a simple answer to this question I refer to the Barcelona weed guide: “Smoking and possession of marijuana is completely legal within the confines of your own home or within a cannabis club. As long as you aren’t smoking or in possession of cannabis in a public place, you are not breaking the law. Even as a foreign national you are within the law.” This sounds like great news and a relatively simple rule to follow, however there are some traps that are possible to fall into whilst in the city. For clarity let’s have a look in a little more detail at what counts as illegal weed usage in the city.


As stated before, smoking weed at home and in a cannabis club is perfectly legal, but this means smoking it anywhere else is not. If you are caught smoking cannabis on the streets you could be prosecuted and fined at least €600! Also, unlike Amsterdam, where it is also illegal to smoke on the streets, the police are much less forgiving. On top of this, it is also important to remember that you shouldn’t buy cannabis from any street vendors as again, you are not at home or in a Cannabis club, it’s not worth the risk as you can get some by being a member of a club. It’s also important to remember that being in possession of Cannabis whilst not at home is illegal, so even if it’s in your pocket, if you get searched you can be fined. But now we know what’s illegal, what can we do in Barcelona?


The Cannabis Club scene is one of the fastest growing weed cultures in Europe and is an interesting experiment that hopefully other cities will begin to follow. The clubs are interesting as they aren’t public like the cafés in Amsterdam. Instead, they are private members only clubs that you need to apply for which means they have a much more private feel. Inside, you can perfectly legally smoke and buy weed. Although, I wouldn’t use the term buying weed as the way the clubs work is a bit more like you own a share of weed when you pay your membership fee and you acquire it when you go to the club. You have to pay a yearly membership fee, but once that’s sorted, you’re all set to go. How do they work legally though? Well, as stated above it isn’t illegal to smoke cannabis on private properties and a Cannabis club counts as a private property, once you’re a member so it all works perfectly!

How to Join a Cannabis Club

The first thing you have to do is find the right club, below we’ve listed some of the most recommended Cannabis Clubs online. It’s important to understand that every club is different, sometimes with a different fee and with a different vibe, so make sure you find one that is right for you. The next step is that you have to request an invitation online. You can ask friends in Barcelona who are already members to get you in, but If you don’t have anyone in the city already you have to find the clubs online, or on instagram and message, requesting an invitation. Again, our friends at Barcelona Weed Guide have some tips for this: “Apply for an invitation from a specific member of staff and when you arrive at the cannabis club you need to ask for this person. They are inviting you to the club and they can get you membership.” Sometimes the club is closed to new members, but if they’re not, the most common reply from them is this: “Please, show this message at the reception desk and bring your ID to identify yourself as a legal adult (age). We can’t answer further questions until we meet face to face at the club.” And that’s exactly what you need to do, don’t forget your ID as this is the key to being accepted!


Here are some of the top recommendations according to a few sites online: Barcelona Coffee Shop, Dragon Weed Club, Zkittlez Weed Club and G13 Weed Club. There’s a much more extensive list, with links at this site

Are they closing down?

These Cannabis clubs are pioneers and have been shown to be reducing the amount of street selling and criminal convictions for cannabis possession. However, there have been motions towards closing these clubs down. Arguments have been made that the clubs are promoting themselves and aiming themselves at young people and tourists, so the police and government have decided to crack down on these promotional activities and will start inspecting the clubs. This could be bad news, but at the same time the Catalonian government has been to-ing and fro-ing on the topic for a while.


Barcelona is a beautiful, bustling city full of beautiful buildings and some spectacular sights, but it is clearly also one of the pioneering cities of Cannabis culture in Europe. One can only hope that these clubs remain what they are and that the protection of the rights of Barcelona citizens and tourists to smoke cannabis is maintained through these brilliant clubs. If you visit Barcelona and want to join a club, remember you have to apply online first and can’t just turn up at the door.

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Last Call at Barcelona’s Cannabis Social Clubs?

Almost every city in the world has cafes—and in 2021, many American cities have legal cannabis—but nowhere else in the world can you find anything resembling the roughly 225 cannabis social clubs in Barcelona.

Plentiful, relatively simple to find, welcoming to tourists and (mostly) tolerated by authorities, Barcelona’s cannabis “asociaciones” make the Catalonian capital possibly the best “420 friendly” tourist destination in the world. Some would even argue they are better than Amsterdam’s coffeeshop scene, and certainly more welcoming than the U.S., where social consumption lounges are rare.

And now that’s all at risk of going away. As El Pais reported, in late July, the Catalan High Court ruled that Barcelona’s cannabis clubs can no longer “promote the consumption, sale or cultivation” of cannabis. The court also threw out regulations passed by local lawmakers in Barcelona—meaning, technically speaking, police could come and shut all 225 of them down tomorrow, as a stern letter sent recently to all 225 clubs from the Barcelona City Council warned.

Inspectors from city government will sometime soon visit all of the city’s asociaciones, “starting with the ones with the most negative impact and which are geared towards tourists and massive sales, with shutdown orders possible to follow investigations.

 A strike against cannabis tourism echoes a limited crackdown against certain foreign-friendly cannabis cafes in Holland—who risk penalties if they admit foreigners without proof of local residence. But in Barcelona, even locals-only  clubs are in jeopardy. “The majority of associations assume that sooner or later they will be forced to close down,” as Eric Asensio, a spokesman for the Federation of Catalan Cannabis Associations told the Guardian.

That hasn’t happened yet. Inspections have yet to begin, and while fines and imprisonment are on the table for any Barcelona associations who defy authorities,US-style police raids seem unlikely in Spain, where the drug war has taken a much softer tone—and particularly in Barcelona, long a bastion for progressive politics, where the mayor is a radical housing activist. (But American readers should remember: in Spain, law enforcement follow national rules rather than a patchwork of local rules.)

But as lawmakers and lawyers and advocates for associations like CatFac argue the meaning of the court’s ruling, Barcelona’s cannabis clubs are living in a state of anxiety and uncertainty.

Club owners and staffers interviewed for this article say the future is uncertain—but the trend seems to point towards a corporate takeover of Barcelona’s freewheeling cannabis community.

“It’s complicated, but for now nothing is happening,” said Nico , one of the co-owners of El Club Verde in the city’s El Raval neighborhood, not far from the city’s medieval Gothic Quarter, who declined to give his last name.

Nothing, he added, except for stress and uncertainty.

Back to illegality

In a story that will sound familiar to Californians, for years, Barcelona’s cannabis clubs existed in a sort of armistice zone. They weren’t legal, but as long as nobody was selling or smoking cannabis outside, and as long as clubs didn’t create much of a smell, or allow anyone strolling past to see what was inside—and as long as they didn’t advertise—everything was okay. Both police and citizens liked the fact that the associations reduced street dealing and consumption.

Though the initial idea was that clubs could be gathering places where people could smoke their own stash, associations quickly started selling cannabis to anyone who paid a membership fee. It’s not entirely clear if this cannabis is their own or if cultivation is controlled by organized crime.

Some club owners and observers will privately admit that other clubs are fronts for transnational criminal organizations—and indeed, some large clubs were classified as criminal enterprises and forced to close in 2014 before both the state of Catalonia and the city of Barcelona passed rules regulating the associations.

In a test case of unintended consequences, Mst clubs felt safe until one association contested the city’s rules around air filtration systems. The complaint reached the Catalan high court, which ruled the city was not free to make laws that violated regional drug statutes, and if Barcelona wanted cannabis clubs, they would have to wait until national lawmakers in Madrid legalized the drug nationally.

Waiting on Madrid

Since the court ruling, the City Council has suggested that cannabis clubs will be able to continue, but as gathering spaces only—no sales. CatFac is arguing that sales are still allowed, and has launched an effort to try to organize the associations in an effort to stay open and to pass friendly laws in Madrid.

In an interview, Patricia Amiguet, the president of CatFac, said she hopes this crisis can become a chance at something better—maybe even legalization. “We’re hoping it can be an opportunity to work together and get regulations in Catalonia,” she said.

In the meantime, there’s the familiar feeling of watching the door and wondering if the next knock is trouble. Will police arrive tomorrow, will the clubs survive until the next Spannabis? Is this it? Nobody can say.

“To be honest, nobody really knows what will happen, when, or how,” said Kenzi Riboulet-Zemouli, a drug policy researcher based in Barcelona. “Even authorities and the judiciary would be unable to tell you what will happen. There are many layers of government/laws/regulations involved and the enforcement of what has changed will be very complex.”

For now, he added, “we are back at the pre-2017 status when there was no [Barcelona] City Hall regulation and no Catalan regulation.”

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Spannabis, ICBC Announce Cancelation as Travel Ban Set to Take Effect

As many of the brightest cannabis stars on the planet are in Spain to take part in a last-minute canceled Spannabis, a freshly announced travel ban from Europe over coronavirus included few details for what will happen to U.S. citizens on their way home from Europe pending their health screening. 

The general focus of yesterday’s announcement on the travel ban from over 20 European countries was a theme of no foreign nationals who’d visited any of them entering the United States. But among the list of countries included in the travel ban is Spain.

With big plans, many of the best cannabis minds in the world converged on Spain to take part in the industries premier annual European adventure, Spannabis. Some planned to stick around for the Barcelona edition of the International Cannabis Business Conference. Spannabis was canceled only two days prior to when the event was set to be held with ICBC being canceled a day before that conference was set to start, leaving prospective attendees without time to adjust their travel plans. In the wee hours of early morning they began to get word of President Donald Trump’s announced travel ban. Trump announced that the U.S. would suspend all travel from Europe, with the exception of the U.K., to the U.S. for 30 days beginning at 11:59 ET on Friday, March 13. While U.S. citizens were said to be exempt from the announcement, that still left those Americans in Spain  — as known coronavirus cases are exploding — wondering what exactly would happen to them upon arrival back in the U.S. 

On Wednesday, there were 2,140 cases of coronavirus in Spain with 48 deaths. By today, those numbers had jumped to 2,968 cases with 84 deaths. 

This morning, both President Trump and Vice President Mike Pence went into deeper detail on what Americans coming back from Europe can expect when returning home. They will be required to fly through 13 specific airports to undergo screenings. 

Trump noted if an American does test positive they aren’t going to be shipped off anywhere. 

“We’re not putting them on planes if it shows positive,” he said. Americans will be quarantined upon arrival, he told the assembled media. “You have to have separation, or this thing takes longer to go away.” 

NPR reported Pence as saying those travelers who return to the U.S. from the EU will all be asked to self-quarantine for 14 days.

So at the very least, everyone on their way home from Spannabis will be required to  self-quarantine. One of those travellers is Luigi Diaz from San Francisco-based Triples SF, known for their Triple Scoop Gelato. 

Diaz said what he has gone through just to spend the day in Spain has been a nightmare as he spoke with us while in transit to the U.K. 

“I literally have spent about $5,000 in two days, lost all my money for the hotel now gotta rent a hotel for the night in London until tomorrow so we can leave for the U.S.,” Diaz told Cannabis Now. 

We asked if he was worried about the threat of quarantine when he finally gets back to California. 

“100%,” he replied. “Everyone is trying to get back by tomorrow because apparently that is the deadline.” 

But there is a lot of confusion with folks around whether that deadline is for quarantine or just to get  back on U.S. soil from anywhere other than the U.K.

Diaz still holds Barcelona’s cannabis scene in high regard despite not getting to spend as much time there as he had hoped. 

“Barcelona was tight and I will be back ASAP,” he said, noting that he found the flower terpene profiles weren’t his taste, but the hash was exceptional. 

Spannabis’s organizers had expected to welcome visitors from more than 50 countries on March 13, 14, and 15. More than 300 exhibitors were expected to take part in the festivities. In addition to the thousands expected at Spannabis, another 1,000 were expected for ICBC Barcelona. 

According to the Department of Homeland Security the new travel restrictions between the U.S. and Europe will be in effect for at least 30 days.

TELL US, did you get caught up in the travel ban? What has your experience been like?

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COVID-19: Spannabis 2020 Cancelled

48 hours away from starting, the 17th edition of Spannabis, one of the world’s largest cannabis trade shows, has been forced to postpone its 2020 event in Barcelona, Spain. “As you may know, this morning, the President of the Generalitat of Catalunya [have] announced extraordinary measures to respond to Covid-19 coronavirus disease,” Spannabis explain in […]

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