Spain is quickly growing to be Europe’s new weed destination rivaling the Netherlands, as cannabis clubs in Spain’s northern Catalonia region reportedly make an estimated $6 million in sales every month. The region is rife with private cannabis clubs that have risen in number from around just 40 in 2010 to over 700 this year.
But even southern Spain is getting its share of cannabis clubs. Marbella, a city in southern Spain popular for its sunny weather and latitude similar to the cannabis-producing Emerald Triangle in California, is home to the burgeoning “green economy” that consists of private clubs like Medical Cannabis Spain, Verde, and Organic Cannabis Club (OCC).
Medical Cannabis Spain
As the name itself implies, Medical Cannabis Spain is centered on improving access for medicinal marijuana rather than catering to recreational users. Currently just an online community, Medical Cannabis Spain is set to become Marbella’s newest weed organization, founded by a British national who goes by the name of Paz.
“I was recently informed that only two of 38 associations in Marbella were actually catering for medical, non-smoking consumers,” Paz said in an interview with Vice. His goal is to open a location that will purely operate as a medical dispensary and someday become a model for future medical pot clubs. After all, there are very few clubs in Marbella that focus solely on medicinal cannabis products.
“Medical patients can still struggle to receive the right medication, but it’s a changing culture worldwide, so I do expect this to change,” he said.
Paz is also optimistic that Spain has the ability to become Europe’s cannabis hub. “With the sun, solar technology, and the cultivation skills, if you were planning things on a resource-based viewpoint, then you would select Spain to supply the whole of Europe,” he said.
One of the Spanish clubs that focus solely on recreational and social marijuana is Verde. Inside, it looks like typical Amsterdam coffee shop—dark, with a neon back-lit bar – but homelier.
“Our ethos is that we are a relaxed, very social, English – and Spanish-speaking environment for people interested in cannabis,” said Levi, Verde’s British manager. “Everyone is welcome, whether you are a smoker or non-smoker, whether you are a heavy consumer or partake occasionally – all providing you meet the requirements to become a member.”
Verde members come from all walks of life, from hippie stoners to businessmen and CEOs all over the world. “Dubai, London, Paris, the US; pretty much name a country and we will probably have a member from there,” Levi said.
The diversity of clientele also reflects on the variety of products found in Verde’s bar: organic medical body creams, CBD capsules, edibles, infused jellies. And then there is the standard selection of indicas, sativas, and hybrid flowers as well as homemade hash, resin, butane hash oil, and dry sift.
Like Paz, Levi believes that Spain can eventually become Europe’s primary weed resource. “Now, other parts of Spain are catching on to the movement because of the success in Barcelona,” he said. “Other local authorities have seen the experiment in Barcelona and have decided whether they want the same happening in their province.”
Organic Cannabis Club
Tracing its roots in Malaga, Spain, the OCC had its share of hardships. Founded by Dominique from the Netherlands, OCC was forced out of Malaga by the police, since the area’s right-wing local authorities are adamant in shutting down cannabis clubs by force.
“Malaga is one of the only places in Spain where the raids are being done by the local police and not the national police. It makes no sense there,” she said. Now, the OCC is located in Marbella, where it is housed in a bright, airy space with its own terrace overlooking the beach.
“I’m just glad to be out of Malaga. Here, the atmosphere is much better. Much more relaxed,” Dominique said.
She believes that cannabis clubs have the potential to become a stronger presence in the country, since citizens are already more open-minded and accepting of the substance. In Catalonia, cannabis associations boast of over 165,000 members – about two percent of its total population. But for the same thing to work in southern Spain, cannabis clubs should work together.
“I think we should get together properly as a united front in order to have lobbying power with local and national governments,” Dominique said. “When we become a significant united body, politicians will listen to us in order to get votes in the election – but if we are all just hiding, they won’t do anything for us.”
Do you think Spain can catch up with the US in terms of cannabis production and variety? Voice your opinions in the comments section below – your opinion matters to the nation.