Photo: San Jaume Square during a demonstration in support of the Marijuana legalization in Barcelona on Jan. 19
Barcelona has a new tourist attraction that some locals wish would disappear: a burgeoning number of “cannabis clubs,” where people can legally buy and smoke pot.
Although selling marijuana is against the law in Spain, some regions allow local residents to set up nonprofit clubs whose members grow and share it for personal use. As recently as 2011, only a few dozen such groups were in the Catalonia region, which includes Barcelona. But since then, the number has risen to about 400, with some clubs opening cafés, on Las Ramblas and other popular tourist streets, that offer menu items such as “New York Haze” and “Big Bud.” The clubs have drawn comparisons with Amsterdam’s pot-selling “coffee shops,” amid some predictions that Barcelona could even become the new pot capital of Europe.
Now the authorities are moving in. Police have shut down at least four Barcelona clubs in recent days for alleged violations that include sales to minors, drug trafficking, and hawking of memberships to passersby. Today, the city government placed a one-year moratorium on the creation of new clubs.