Basque Region Cannabis Clubs Throw Down Gauntlet To Reopen
After being devastated by Pandemic shutdowns, clubs in the Basque region of Spain petition their government to let them reopen for business.
Basque region cannabis clubs have now petitioned their government to let them begin to plan for re-opening. The Federation of Cannabis User Associations of the Basque country or Eusfac, will meet with the state government this week to petition them to adopt “less restrictive measures in relation to the activity of the cannabis clubs.”
The situation in Spain over the operations of the clubs has been one of the most fraught in Europe, especially now with both a lawsuit pending about constitutional rights access at the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg and COVID-19. The Pandemic has severely strained if not shut down operations all over Spain. Clubs have not allowed to open at all and those that do, certainly do not function in the same way. Obtaining product has also been difficult.
The upshot? More people, starting with patients, but including recreational users, have been forced into the black market. While there is still no federal or even state-level regulation of the entire club vertical (akin to dispensaries in the United States), a semi-regulated industry has established itself in the country over the last decade. Most of the clubs were established in Barcelona, but there are similar entities all over the country at this point.
And many are starting to take a stand on formalizing their right to exist – at a formal level – in Spain.
In some ways, the situation in Spain is roughly analogous to the situation that led voters in two U.S. states in 2012, to vote for state control of their own cannabis industries. This has been especially true as Barcelona has become the de facto cannabis club centre of the country. However other regions have taken note, especially as the organizers of the entire movement have been prosecuted. Albert Tió currently sits in jail for his role in the same.
During the Pandemic, however, it became very clear that the situation if not the status of the clubs was no-where close to their state equivalents in the U.S. Most were instantly shut down. Many were eventually allowed to re-open, but according to one report, most have reported losing up to 60% of their membership. Curfews have also made an impact. And Covid restrictions, like mask-wearing and social distancing, have effectively killed the social aspect of the clubs.
Regardless, many of the clubs have managed to stay open somehow, despite a rise in crime targeted both at the clubs and those who frequent them. Some report that members are spending more money in the clubs than before. There is a gritty resolve here, gained by facing down authorities and the multiple obstacles required to operate such establishments. A mere Pandemic will not make that go away.
Be sure to book your tickets now for the return of the International Cannabis Business Conference to Berlin in July 2021!