Laws can be funny things. They’re subject to interpretation, meaning that they can mean different things, depending on how you read them. Courts and lawyers battle over how to interpret existing laws. In the United States, the existing federal drug laws, including the Controlled Substances Act, criminalize the use, manufacturing, possession, and distribution of illicit drugs. And yet, 33 states have legalized the use of medical marijuana, and 11 states plus Washington, D.C. have legalized adult-use cannabis.
Spain has drug laws similar to the US. In Spain, it is illegal to use, manufacture, possess or distribute illegal drugs on public domain. The difference between the two countries is that in Spain, a private residence or club stays private — and what you do in a private space, like a cannabis club, is your business. As long as any of the illegal stuff (like weed) stays within the boundaries of a private place, and no profit is made, it’s all good.
Penalties for Cannabis in Barcelona
Consumption of cannabis in public is not tolerated in Spain. If you’re caught smoking weed in public, you can expect more than a slap on the wrist. Fines anywhere between €301-€601 ($350-$700) can be issued by police, depending on the season (tourists bring big bucks to Barcelona during the height of summer, and fines can be higher then), and the arresting officer’s mood. If you’re a tourist, you can count on having to pay the fine that very day, and kiss goodbye to your vacation dollars.
Penalties for weed possession are based on the amount possessed, and intent. If you’re in a private area, as long as the amount you’re holding is for personal use and not for distribution, everything is cool. If you have up to 999 grams (around 35 ounces), you can argue that it’s for personal use. I mean, who can’t burn 999 grams in a year?
Possession of cannabis in the public domain comes with much stiffer fines and even the possibility of jail time. You can argue that anything up to 999 grams is for personal use, and not be treated as a drug trafficker, but your weed will still be seized, and fines run from €601 to €10,400 ($700-$12,000).
Anything 1000 grams and over is treated as intent to traffic and can come with a 3-10 year prison sentence, even if you’re in a private space.
In short, it’s not acceptable to consume cannabis in public in Spain. If you’re visiting Barcelona, and want to experience our rich weed scene, do so safely, in a private space — like a cannabis club.