Going on a chill vacation to Spain and wonder what the Cannabis rules are? Well, to say the least, it’s complicated. Lucky you, we’ve asked the same question and snooped around to prepare a complete guide expressly about this cannabis question.
What are the cannabis rules in Spain? While there is a spectrum of legalities for cannabis use, these two concepts are true throughout Spain:
- It is illegal to sell cannabis in Spain. Cannabis trafficking can lead to criminal offenses, jail time, and a steep penalty.
- It is legal to smoke cannabis for your personal use. Ensure it is consumed in the privacy of your own home, or if you are a traveler, in only on private properties.
With cannabis laws changing throughout the world and more widespread social acceptance of the use of cannabis and cannabinoids, the Spanish government has been struggling with the legal considerations surrounding cannabis use by its people and visitors. What’s a law-abiding cannabis user to do? Let’s take a deeper dive into the current state of cannabis rules in Spain.
Is Cannabis Legal in Spain?
Yes. And no. While marijuana has been decriminalized for personal use and many attitudes regarding cannabis use are lax in Spain, you have to be careful. There are some clear-cut basics of the rules regarding that use, but unfortunately, the legality of it all gets a little more complicated.
We’ll get into a lot of the details and cover many of the laws, based on reports and statements produced by the Spanish government, as well as reporting from reputable local sources. If you plan to use marijuana during your time in Spain, make sure you read more into the local laws of where you are to learn more about it, avoid fines, and stay out of jail.
If you are visiting for a short time, it’s probably a good idea to just stay away from the complications of handling cannabis abroad. It’s best to stay out of messing with legalities in a foreign country unless you know some trustworthy, above-board locals who can help you out.
Some Details of the Cannabis Laws in Spain
So, let’s go ahead and sort out the major legalities of marijuana.
|Selling Cannabis||It is illegal to sell cannabis.||Cannabis trafficking is not allowed, but it is legal to buy and sell paraphernalia, the seeds, or other hemp products.|
|Growing Cannabis||It is legal to grow cannabis in your private property. |
|Smoking Cannabis||Smoking cannabis in public places is illegal! No smoking is allowed in streets, public transportations, public parks, or even the beach. If you are caught, you will pay a large fine, subject to jail time, and your bag of cannabis in your possession will be seized.||Smoking cannabis in private spaces is allowed.|
|Buying Cannabis||You will find cannabis sold on the streets, or even on the beach, but keep in mind that this is illegal. Also, realize that these could be doubtful quality and can be more dangerous than what you think it may be.||you can acquire cannabis legally by joining a members-only, private cannabis club.|
Helpful Cannabis-Related Details for a Visitor to Spain
As a tourist and visitor, always take caution and respect the local communities. Know the local laws and check out customs before you get there. The best traveler blends in and does as the locals do.
A rowdy tourist is never well-accepted by locals. And since we’re on the topic of cannabis, consider this: a law enforcement officer can search you for unruly or unpleasant behaviors. If you are carrying cannabis – in public – this will not go well for you.
If you are caught any with cannabis on you in a public place, this is a crime. It can be considered at a level of cannabis trafficking and highly illegal. The fines, criminal offense, and jail time all pertain.
Tip: It may be helpful to know that in Spain, marijuana is called “Ganja.”
So, no ganja in public. But perhaps you’ve heard something about these fabled Spanish cannabis clubs. Do they really exist? Yes, there are cannabis clubs. Let’s talk more about them.
Cannabis Clubs, Coffee Shops, or Cultural Associations
First and foremost, ensure the club you visit is considered a private space. Cannabis clubs were popularized with the law of decriminalizing cannabis products in private spaces, but it is only within the club walls that you can enjoy your marijuana socially. You cannot take it outside the door.
The main attractions of the cannabis clubs are its private spaces. They are often labeled as:
- Cannabis clubs
- Coffee shops
- Cultural associations
With the loophole of the decriminalization of private consumption, these businesses are considered “legal spaces for consumption” as long as they are labeled and contained as a private space and not earning a profit.
Although complicated, this is the best place for foreigners to enjoy cannabis, as there is no need to find your own private space if you don’t live in Spain. Some clubs, however, do not allow travelers. If you aren’t a citizen of Spain, check with the club before you make your plans.
I repeat to emphasize “private spaces” because with that comes a few consequences and characteristics of these clubs.
How do Cannabis Clubs work? How do I Find a Cannabis Club?
We’ve driven home some important ideas: don’t carry cannabis in public places, respect the locals, and now – do your research. Although there are wide varieties of these cannabis clubs to choose from in Spain, you will not find their information widely available everywhere.
Researching Cannabis Clubs
Due to the law of private consumption, cannabis clubs are not allowed to advertise publicly. So, the best method would be to do some research ahead of time. Go to tourist sites, talk to your friends who may be local, or even ask around.
There are wide varieties of cannabis clubs, and if it’s your first time, make sure to look around and ask questions. There are different sizes from snug to large, different themes, and even different varieties of qualities. The first rule: do not bring your own cannabis.
How a Cannabis Club Works
- Essentially, most clubs require membership. This chimes with the concept that these are private spaces! They must contain their privacy by requiring membership and a valid ID.
- Once you pay a fee for the membership, you will be able to pick from their selection of different cannabis products.
Who Knows You Have Attended a Cannabis Club?
The government or any other entities should not have access to your membership information, nor your personal information for that matter. This keeps the system discreet and keeps things indoors and private. That is the benefit of the private space.
But keep in mind, with the concept being a “private space only,” you cannot take your products out to the beach, other bars, or anywhere outside considered a public space.
Are There Any Restrictions on Cannabis Clubs?
Since the cannabis culture is essentially underground due to the fact that all of them are privately held, you will find many clubs that foreigners are not aware of.
Sometimes there are rules that make accessing these clubs a bit harder:
- A lot of these clubs may restrict customers to Spanish citizens only, so do a little exploring before you gleefully charge into one.
- Most clubs will also have an age restriction, usually 21. Per governmental regulation, they must restrict consumers to legal adults.
- Some clubs are only available to those that are referred by a current member.
Lastly, these clubs are for recreational purposes only. If you are looking for medical help, you may be able to find a few clubs that offer medical advice, but not all. Medical marijuana is still considered illegal, and medical doctors are not allowed to prescribe cannabis.
As mentioned, you are highly advised not to take cannabis outside these clubs! Usually, clubs place a limit on how much you can acquire in a day. The limit differs from club to club and usually is based on their estimate for what they think is sufficient for personal use per day and month.
The consumption amount, the age and legality of the people that have access and being non-profit is what keeps these clubs out of trouble. If you do happen to sneak a bag out and get caught, if you want to keep the club out of trouble, you should not blame it on the cannabis club.
How to Join a Cannabis Club in Spain
As mentioned above, there are only a few ways to join the cannabis clubs in Spain. One common restriction is requiring only memberships through a current member. Luckily, some online organizations will act as your reference to join the clubs.
Keep in mind that this still means you need to meet the basic (legal) requirements. This could include age or even citizenship.
When you apply at these online organizations, you won’t get to choose which club you will be a member of, but they will pair you with an eligible club.
- Strangely, all you have to do is send an email for the website reference or “sponsor” to set up an appointment for registration with the club.
- Once the set-up is ready, you will get a notification for the appointment with the eligible club.
Filling out the Paperwork
When you are joining a club, you will be required to fill out some membership forms. For your own privacy, confirm with the representatives that this information is not shared with any outside source or the government. This should be a private and secure system.
- During the sign-up, you will also need to provide government-issued identification. This can be a passport, driver’s license, etc.
- Do not provide your home address from the states! Most of the places will require you to provide a Spanish residential address. Usually, a local friend’s address or Airbnb will be your best bets, as hostel and hotel addresses will not be accepted.
- Lastly, you will have to pay for a membership fee, which is not the fee for “purchasing” the cannabis. Usually, the membership fees range from 15 to 50 euros for the membership and are often required to be paid in cash.
A Cannabis Club is More of a Cooperative Than a Store or Bar
You will never be “buying” cannabis at these clubs. The clubs are simply sharing the cannabis with their club members in a private meeting. These associations are usually non-profit and are under strict regulations to remain that way.
If any of these clubs are ever caught to be profiting from the consumers, they will be considered to be in violation of the law.
So, when you are required to pay a fee for the cannabis, keep in mind that it is the fee to grow and maintain the plant and maintain the club’s facility, not the product itself. It’s due, not a purchase. Keep in mind how important this mindset is to the survival of the cannabis club.
What About CBD use?
The least complicated of them all, CBD-enriched products are mostly legal in Spain. Much like the pop-up stores that are appearing across all the states in the US, CBD-rich products are common and well-accepted.
There is a catch – it’s the least complicated, but it is a catch, nonetheless. After the conflicts that appeared in 2018 in Spain, many of the CBD products began to be prohibited for human consumption. This relates to some methods of ingestion, including smoking, vapors, aerosols, and the like.
Most places now will offer only topical options of the CBD products, which include medicinal creams, balms, and oils. If you are looking to consume CBD supplements or other consumables legally, you will have to find it imported from an EU country that legally permits the consumption of CBD.
Whether it is technically legal to ship CBD consumables to yourself in Spain remains a topic of debate. While CBD is recognized as not being psychotropic substance and allowable for cosmetic purposes, the Spanish government hasn’t made the sale or purchase of CBD consumables legal. Order at your own risk.
CBD vs. THC
The two prominent compounds out of many in the cannabis plant out of the 113 are CBD and THC. Arguably, they both are claimed to have medicinal effects. Check out this video to learn more.
Cannabidiol, CBD, is the chemical in cannabis plants that is not psychoactive. It is the component of the cannabis plant that helps you relax and is theoretically proposed for medicinal purposes.
- There is up to 40% of CBD oil extract in the cannabis plant out of the 113 other identified cannabinoids.
Recent research has shown that CBD may help with anxiety, cognition, movement disorders, and pain. For these theories, many wish to acquire CBD oil into medicinal practices.
CBD is a major component, but it is not the psychoactive factor of cannabis that most are familiar with. The chemical responsible for the psycho-activity of the Cannabis plant is THC (tetrahydrocannabinol).
For this reason, you will not feel high with a CBD. This version is favored for this reason and is a potential alternative to help in the medicinal aspect of the cannabis plant.
THC is the chemical responsible for the psychoactive component of the cannabis plant. THC acts by binding to certain areas of the brain responsible for thinking, memory, pleasure, coordination, and time.
The psychoactive component of the THC compound is predicted to release dopamine, which creates euphoria. This can result in distortion of memory input, cause hallucination, and change the thinking process.
As THC strongly binds to the receptors in the brain, the effects can last up to hours when consumed. This is the compound responsible for impairing motor skills and should be taken cautiously and considered before conducting a motor task (such as driving!)
The State of Growing Ganja in Spain
Overall, ganja, or cannabis, is illegal for importing or selling cannabis products in Spain. Breaking this law will result in fines and can result in jail time.
Yet, all other Cannabis-related actions besides selling or trading is decriminalized, which means that you will still be fined for violation (e.g., not using marijuana for personal consumption in private spaces).
Interesting enough, Spain is one of the best places to cultivate marijuana, and they are ready too. There are already vast amounts of illegal plantations spread throughout the country that produce marijuana.
Some claim that the majority of the cannabis sold in other countries are grown in Spain. Although the landowners cannot make money for the cannabis itself, they are already making a fortune for providing the land to those who grow it.
It is not a surprise that the Spanish are waiting for the day for it to be legal in Spain; they have the land, the experience, and the warm climates to support it. Some growers state that Spain is the new resolution to the shortage.
There are already millions of euros that are representing the number of seeds that are being exported from Spain. They legally turn over a third of the global market of the cannabis seeds.
What are the Politics of Cannabis in Spain?
The only political party that supports cannabis for medicinal and recreational purposes is Podemos. The party leader, Pablo Iglesias, is not a cannabis user himself, trying to get the law changed for his own favor. In fact, it’s quite the opposite. Iglesias says he is more of a beer drinker than a pot smoker.
Iglesias argues that the stigma for potheads should be corrected. People who go to clubs to smoke a joint should be compared to people that like to have a beer at the bar — just different types of preferences.
Legalized Spanish Cannabis is Where the Money Is
That is the mindset of this party; cannabis isn’t just about the recreational and psychoactive drug. The party argues that cannabis is an economic shifter for Spain and should be considered for its medicinal benefits. They argue that legalization will reduce the black market and place the money in the hands of the right locals.
Some smokers and growers in Spain just want to be a part of the game. With the legalization of marijuana popping up across the world, its economic wheel is turning and turning fast.
With the great selection of land, climate, and experience, the Spaniards are just eager to play in the game and become game-changers. They arguably can make 3.3 billion euros in taxes and social security from the cannabis industry.
The director of the political party claims that Spain could be the leader if they legalized cannabis. They could be the “California of Europe” to provide and cultivate the massive amounts of cannabis that might face a hard shortage.
For the benefit of the country, they could also provide for the current patients that are receiving medicinal marijuana prescriptions that are produced from an external source.
The Podemos political party has had the urgency to provide this business to the people that have the farms and know their crops. They regret to lose all of their power to the monopoly businesses that grow and richer and richer on the laws and regulations.
Really what it boils down to is the World Health Organization (WHO) that controls these legalizations of marijuana throughout the world.
Spain’s Stand on Marijuana for Medicinal Purposes
Medical marijuana is not fully legalized throughout Spain. Different regions of Spain have their own laws and regulations. As a whole, medical cannabis is not legally allowed or supported by the Spanish government. There are no medical marijuana programs backed by the government.
As a result, most users who require cannabis for medicinal purposes or pain relief are at the same crossroads as a recreational user: break the law or join a cannabis club. Many cannabis clubs serve as the “unofficial” medical marijuana program in Spain.
Oddly enough, marijuana research is one of the most prominent topics in Spain. In many cases, there are also people in the pharmaceutical industries that are having to determine whether or not it is safe to bring the new medicinal drugs into the country.
The researchers investigate one proposed drug at a time to determine the ultimate benefit to risk ratio.
They are waiting for quantifiable results that will state that the medicinal cannabis alternatives to current drugs are measurably better and safer. Not to mention how they can be controlled once out in public.
But is it only about what researchers can find out in the lab, or are users already happy enough with the current benefits they experience? As one pharmacist said, “something that feels good doesn’t have to be medicinal.”
Safeguarding the Public Through Regulated Medical Marijuana
As mentioned previously, there are numerous plantations, expanding greenhouses in massive square footage that produce weed for external medicinal agencies. This is highly regulated to export the best quality cannabis.
The dangers of medicinal cannabis lie in the potential for producers to violate safeguards and cut cannabis purity and quality. These actions could be very harmful to patients and consumers.
The quality crossed with the requirement for quantifiable results makes the game difficult for those that want at least the medicinal (consumable) cannabis to be legalized in Spain.
That being said, these pharmacists and researchers may discover the scientific evidence to show that it can be used as medicinal purposes for “x amount of quantifiable reasons,” but at the end of the day, it is just data that WHO and the government can use to make the final decisions.
Other Countries Around Spain and their Laws
There are neighboring countries around Spain that have arguably equally-complex regulations. Some are just straight illegal.
|Country and General Attitude toward Cannabis||Recreational Cannabis||Medicinal Cannabis|
In Italy, medicinal and industrial uses of cannabis drugs are legal. It is highly regulated, though. Even licensed plantations are only restricted to certain seeds that have minimal levels of psychoactive compounds.
|Recreational cannabis is decriminalized. ||Medicinal cannabis is legal; this includes consumptive cannabis.|
Portugal is a unique neighbor to Spain in the fact that Portugal has decriminalized all drugs as of 2001. Portugal has also accepted to legalize cannabis for medical purposes.
|Recreational cannabis is decriminalized up to 25 g of the herb, or 5 g of the hashish||Medicinal cannabis is legal in Portugal.|
Cannabis is illegal for recreational personal use in France. Much like its neighbors, cannabis is still one of the most popular illegal drugs. For medical purposes, a selection of cannabis-derived products is permitted.
|Recreational cannabis is illegal, completely. |
The possession of cannabis is punishable by a 200 euro fine.
|Medicinal cannabis is subject to certain cannabis-derived drugs.|
Morocco is still the world’s top producers of hashish, but all drugs, including marijuana, is illegal since 1974. The cannabis plant is still cultivated well in Morocco, like its neighboring country, Spain.
|Recreational marijuana is illegal but may be unenforced.||Medicinal cannabis is illegal.|
Even though the Netherlands is not quite a neighbor to Spain, we can’t leave out Amsterdam when speaking about cannabis and coffee shops.
|Recreational cannabis is illegal but use and sale are accepted at coffeeshops. ||Medicinal cannabis is legal|