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Ole! The Spanish Supreme Court Takes Aim At Barcelona’s Cannabis Clubs

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The Spanish Constitutional Court has issued two rulings against the Barcelona club scene – but with a pending case in the EU’s highest court, does this really matter?

As 2021 dawns with sputtering hope of a revival of society, if not economies globally, it appears that authorities in Europe are taking on the issue of cannabis reform in a decidedly “old-fashioned” way. To date, only Holland has fully tackled the issue, and its first attempt at a national cultivation scheme has already fallen by the wayside. 

In Spain, the issue is front and centre right now, with a country that has seen its celebrated club culture essentially decimated by the various rules and regulations of lockdown. Beyond that, however, the “instigating” founders of the scene in the first place, are facing national jail time. Albert Tió indeed, turned himself in last December. His case against the Spanish national government is now pending in the European Court of Human Rights at Strasburg.

Reform, in other words, is a high profile issue.

To address that, the Supreme Court has made two decisions lately that directly affect the industry. In two decisions, that came right on top of each other the Court declared the City Council of Barcelona “lacks the competence” to regulate the clubs via municipal plans, and the 218 clubs it has registered for the purpose so far.

So far, the municipal authorities in Barcelona have not backed down. After all, they realize that Spanish authorities at the federal level are making a lot of noise over what could, legitimately, be nothing, given the pending EU court’s decision. Not to mention, as city leaders have already publicly pointed out, they are unwilling to revisit the matter until there is a federal solution, and in the meantime, there needs to be some kind of regulation.

Standoff city. Yet again.

A New Dawn For Spain in 2021?

There are about 1,500 registered clubs in Spain, with over 80% either in Barcelona or its outlying suburbs. The clubs employ about 7,500 people across the country. Each club has, on average, 3-400 members. Many clubs have either been shut down entirely or forced to operate in an even stranger, greyer, more precarious space since the beginning of the Pandemic.

With the new Supreme Court rulings, in other words, will at least a temporary additional level of complication, not to mention legal work, force that infrastructure to collapse?

It is clearly the goal of authorities right now. That, however, at least in the short term, is a goal they are unlikely to achieve. Cannabis has landed in Europe, and it is unlikely that it will be successfully rolled back, in Spain, or anywhere else for that matter as Luxembourg joins the conversation later this year.

Be sure to book your tickets for the International Cannabis Business Conference when it returns this summer to Berlin to get the latest on ever-changing European cannabis legislation and business environments.