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article imageBarcelona scores with 'cannabis tourism' online

By Anne Sewell     May 24, 2014 in World
Barcelona - It is not hard to find cannabis in Barcelona, Spain. If you Google the words "marijuana Barcelona" you are presented with a whole load of available options, in English, as "cannabis tourism" takes off in the region.
In the search results you will find information about the various cannabis clubs or associations in the Catalan capital and everything you need to know about the joining said clubs.
This is causing huge problems for the local authorities. The drug is decriminalized in Spain and while it is illegal to sell marijuana on the streets, it is permitted to grow and hold a small amount for personal use, but not in public. However, there is no specific legislation covering the sale and advertisement of marijuana on the Internet and this is how “cannabis tourism” has started up and business is booming. Now authorities are trying to find a way to regulate it all.
According to El Pais, the websites offer the chance to join a club by telephone or by email. They list all the different types of marijuana products available and give prices. Examples given were one gram of AK47 would knock you back 9 euros ($12), while a gram of Silver Haze costs 10 euros ($14).
Getting around the law was pretty clever. There are membership fees of around 20 euros to be paid on application, together with a valid ID, after which interested parties receive the club’s address.
By setting themselves up as an association and charging a membership fee, the clubs have made it possible to sell the drug within the law online. Marijuana is available for purchase on a non-profit and members-only basis. Of course, the club makes money through membership fees, so this doesn’t hurt.
According to a criminal lawyer, Martí Cànoves, the conditions they have set up meet legal requirements and also guarantee that there is no indiscriminate access to the drug.
Reportedly there are around 400 cannabis clubs in the Catalonia region, all officially registered as associations, and 50 percent of these are in the capital, Barcelona.
Most of them stick to the rules, although some do occasionally go astray. Every now and then the regional Catalan police, the Mossos d’Esquadra, have to take action. For instance on Wednesday this week, three members of a Barcelona club were arrested when found seeking customers on the street.
Meanwhile it seems to be good business, as according to Albert Tió, spokesman for the Federations of Self-Regulated Cannabis Associations of Catalonia, there could be over 165,000 club members altogether. Of these, 60,000 are regular consumers spending between 50 and 100 euros per month. This is estimated to be making the clubs around 5 million a month altogether.
According to El Pais, the marijuana sold by the clubs is grown in hidden industrial warehouses where the electricity supply metering is tampered with to avoid raising any alarms, as a lot of lighting goes into the process.
While there is little regulation and not much that can be done to stop the practice, action is being taken to set a minimum age for joining the clubs and also placing a limit on the number of members each club can have. Officials are also creating legislation to ensure that club premises will not be allowed close to schools.
Spanish/Catalan source:
Generalitat de Catalunya
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