In Spain adults are allowed to privately grow up to five cannabis plants, even though the plant remains very illegal in any kind of public sense. Marijuana has always been present in the city- hash predominantly, and when I visited Barcelona for the first time in 2009 my companion and I were able to score some from the locals selling beer by the metro on La Rambla. My how things have changed, and for the better! Now there are reportedly over 200 "social clubs" in Barcelona, each with its own private membership base and policies, though it seems there are some standard guidelines.
The inner entrance to Strain Hunters Club
These social clubs can exist because of a grey area of the law- because they are private, adults who are already cannabis consumers can come together with each other in a private space and enjoy a smoke together. This distinction of "private" is taken very seriously, there are no transparent windows to the outside and this only adds to the trouble of determining the passage of time. Between the dabs, jet lag and not seeing the sun it's amazing I made it to anything on time! This has to be the case though. Even a private backyard with four walls and no ceiling would not be permitted. The entrances to the clubs are all two-part processes, with the door to the street needing to be closed before the door to the rest of the club could be opened to maintain privacy. While having places to chill and toke with others is certainly awesome and in most cases better than what we've got in the US, it was frustrating to see hundreds of adults sitting in the Barcelona sunshine enjoying alcohol while the pot smokers can't even open (or have) a window.
No windows meant plenty of space for heady artwork at Tierre Verde Biocultura
The first rule of the social clubs seemed to be you've got to know someone to get in. Once you've been referred, there is a registration process where your age is verified, a copy of your idenification is taken and a form is filled out. One of the hardest questions was an estimate of how much weed per month I consumed, but I was assured it was just a guideline and I couldn't go wrong by selecting the maximum amount (which varied from club to club). Who knows, it might be an accurate estimiate!
Each club I went to clearly had its own personality and cast of regulars, and it was great to know there was a spot to go smoke up where the chances of running into some familiar faces was high. There was usually some kind of refreshments offered, from basic coffee and candy to fresh juice and takeout tapas from the bar next door. Overall I was happy to have a place to safely enjoy cannabis with others and that familiar smell made the country seem less foreign and I felt right at home.
Focacceria La Kalada served up some excellent munchies!