“Coffee shop?” “Smoke weed?” These are two of the many colorful phrases that you hear from the plague of cannabis club promoters on the streets of Barcelona — and I use plague in the biblical sense: a widespread affliction, or destructive influx.
Under Spain's current laws, trafficking, selling, or carrying cannabis is still a crime. Smoking or displaying it in public will cost you a large fine, any cannabis you have will be seized, and you could even be subject to jail time.
However, the personal use of marijuana has been decriminalized, and it’s acceptable to consume cannabis in private spaces. This is why Barcelona’s cannabis clubs exist — to provide a safe space
for people to enjoy locally grown flower and other cannabis products.
Due to the legal grey area that Barcelona cannabis clubs operate in, all clubs have a membership system. Only invited members are allowed into a club. Most cannabis clubs will not allow a walk-in guest, unless they're accompanied by a member of said club.
This is where street promoters come in. Street promoters are members of these clubs, so they have the right to co-sign anyone they see fit to be a member as well. The deal for them is that they take the registration fee for every member they co-sign — usually €20 per person!
Shady People Go to Shady Clubs
So far, so good… what could be the problem? Everyone wins, right? Well, not all of the time. In a city where marijuana is still technically illegal, clubs that work with street promoters are bad news. Not only are these clubs targets for undercover police operations, which just adds bad press to cannabis in general, but they also tend to be overpriced, and not run well.
Don’t Be Lead Astray
As for the street promoters themselves, you can never tell what you're going to get with their recommendations. You're rolling the dice on whether or not they work for a good club. There's also a risk that you could be robbed.
Unscrupulous promoters usually lurk near clubs with good reputations. They try to poach people looking for a club by telling a lie along the lines of “That club was closed by the police,” or “You don’t want to go there now, the police are there.”
They continue the pitch with “I can take you somewhere else.” These opportunists will sell whatever club they want to take you to like it's heaven on earth, and be adamant that you not go to your original destination. Be polite, but firm — just say “no thanks,” and continue on your way.
To enjoy cannabis safely in Barcelona, visit a club accompanied by a member, or secure your own invitation. Don't trust street promoters who may steer you into a bad situation.