A country that is widely known for its bullfights and flamenco shows is now running against Netherlands’ famous coffeeshops. Having discovered a loophole in the law which I’ll dig into in my next post, hundreds of ”associations” and thousands of home growers are said to be located in Catalonia, and the Basque region is not lingering behind.
Although some clubs have been raided by local police, hampering cultivation and detaining the owners, Federations of Cannabis Clubs are pushing for the implementation of new drug policies in favor of recreational use for adults.
But are these clubs really a continuation of drug trafficking as local police perceive them, or an equivalent to coffee shops? What is this new model of association?
Also known as Cannabis Social Clubs, they are basically non-commercial organisations that allow cannabis users to cultivate their own cannabis. In other words, the users pass the full responsibility of cultivation of the seed to the hands of an expert in return for a membership or consultation fee. What sets them apart from coffeeshops in Amsterdam is that the associations are run solely on a membership system, and do not ”sell” marijuana. There are members and the selection of them are not arbitrary. Age and health are two main criteria. If one has a member friend, it is more likely that you will be a member too.
Cannabis users seem to be happy with this practice. Without feeling the need to turn to the black market, they regularly receive a good quality product. ‘’The weed you buy from the street is like a gamble. Sometimes it’s good. Sometimes it comes with a lot of soil. You take pot luck’’ said Marina, a cannabis user of Kush Association, Barcelona. Concerns over safety also weakened the black market while moving the users towards the club environment. ‘’It is risky and weird with the drug dealer in the middle of the street. But here I can cultivate my own weed with experts. It feels much safer’’ she added.
On the other hand, Spanish authorities see the association as a dirty business, another way of drug trafficking, a view obviously not shared by members. ‘‘In the Basque region, we have gastronomic clubs, it is like a pub but collective and cheap. You take your beer, cook and sing with others. No one disturbs you. Now we created associations but for smoking together. It is unusual for us. We are a organized society. Collective work is part of our tradition ’ noted Martin Barriuso, the president of the Federation of Cannabis Clubs (FAC).
Let me know what you think: Would you like to be a member of an association? Or would you rather just buy your herb the old-fashioned way?