Is Barcelona the new Amsterdam?

Spain is taking advantage of a legal loophole that allows hundreds of private marihuana smoking clubs to serve cannabis to users.

Dealing cannabis in Spain is illegal but under Spanish law growing and private consumption is not penalised.  However the authorities are getting concerned as over 700 of these private smoking clubs are springing up all over the country, with the majority of them situated in Barcelona.

Antoni Mateu, head of public health for the Catalonia regional government states that the clubs are spreading so quickly because of the lack of rules and regulation. Others believe the rapid increase in smoking clubs is a good thing. Susana, 27 believes that it reduces the amount of money going into the black market and allows users to consume a quality, tested product.

A cannabis smoking club only remains legal as long as they control consumption and do not sell the drug for a profit. Club members must be over the age of 18 and be accompanied by an existing member.  While most clubs abide by these laws, others are turning into major illegal drug dealing ventures, supplying traffickers and selling to adolescents. 

Martin Barriuso, Spanish Federation of Cannabis Associations spokesman has admitted that some bad practices have emerged but is confident that those who do not abide by the law will be reported to the authorities.

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