Barcelona to close 50 cannabis clubs

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BARCELONA is to close 50 cannabis clubs.

Catalan authorities in Barcelona are worried about the city’s reputation as a marihuana smokers’ haven and ordered the immediate closure of 50 cannabis clubs after detecting deficiencies in their management. The affected clubs stand accused of illegally selling cannabis, trying to attract non-members and of poor ventilation.

The number of Spanish cannabis clubs has rocketed in recent years from approximately 40 in 2010 to more than 700. The Catalan capital is home to more than 50 per cent of these clubs which sprung into existence thanks to a legal loophole in Spanish legislation allowing marihuana to not only be cultivated but also distributed to people who found a non-profit organisation.

Some clubs, however, have pushed the boundaries of Spanish legislation by encouraging tourists to sign up for temporary club membership over the Internet before they arrive in Spain and buy drugs when they visit.

Barcelona Council recently imposed a one-year moratorium on associations creating cannabis clubs and now Catalan authorities have called for a tougher stance and stricter rules on cannabis. These include passing regulations prohibiting the opening of cannabis clubs near schools and making it mandatory for them to be well ventilated at all times. Furthermore, authorities wish to impose a maximum membership number and limit opening hours. In addition, the Catalan Ministry of Health is to present a bill in September to the Generalitat (Regional Government) to regulate cannabis consumption.

It is estimated that there are as many as 165,000 registered members of cannabis clubs in Catalonia, which brings approximately €5 million (£4 million) in revenue each month.

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