Barcelona’s Cannabis Clubs in Limbo After Abrupt Court Ruling

Part of Barcelona’s charming appeal is its concentration of hundreds of cannabis clubs—known locally as asociaciónes—but that could come crashing to an end in the city’s latest setback. The Supreme Court dealt another blow to the legal loophole that allowed around 200 local clubs to continue operation.

They are defined officially as private members’ clubs, but the associations generally rely on luring tourists, with a membership fee of around €10 ($11.83)—and it usually goes towards the first purchase, anyways.

In 2014, the Public Health Agency of the Generalitat de Catalunya proposed tight new measures to regulate the clubs. The Generalitat is the regional government of Catalonia—having broad powers under Spain’s decentralized system, although it cannot override Spanish national law. And Spanish law allows private cannabis use.

The cannabis clubs reached a setback in 2017, when the Supreme Court overruled the local Catalan law. That law once maintained that “private consumption of cannabis by adults… is part of the exercise of the fundamental right to free personal development and freedom of conscience.”

The clubs continued to operate, however, under a city bylaw that regulated the sale of cannabis. But that too has been overruled by judges, taking the authority away from city officials.

“The majority of

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