Barcelona, Spain is the social cannabis use capital of the world. Home to hundreds of cannabis lounges and clubs, Barcelona’s cannabis community and consumer experience is unique in every way. Unfortunately, the public policies in Spain pertaining to such establishments do not currently align with reality, with many lawmakers and regulators choosing to stick their heads in the sand and act as if Barcelona’s emerging industry doesn’t exist.
That approach by many lawmakers and regulators does a huge disservice to not only people involved in the cannabis trade, but also the rest of society which would benefit from a regulated industry. Just as the adult-use cannabis industry is generating a significant economic impact in Canada, so too could it do the same in Spain, particularly in Barcelona.
Generating Jobs and Tax Revenue
Every member of a society benefits from a boost in the economy to some degree, particularly when that boost comes from afar. When cannabis enthusiasts travel to an area to partake in cannabis commerce, they need rides to and from lounges, they eat and shop in the area, and they pay for lodging, among many other things. The larger the tourist population, the more local people benefit from the increased commerce.
In Barcelona, all the cannabis consumption at clubs and lounges occurs in private settings, so the mere activity of consuming cannabis is not a nuisance, and thus, the economic boost is clearly a net gain to the region. Cannabis tourism generates jobs, and if the industry is regulated, it also generates taxes and fees that go to public coffers, which is one of the many reasons why Spain should be embracing Barcelona’s clubs and lounges instead of making them operate in limbo. Additionally, society benefits from no longer having public revenue earmarked for enforcing failed public policy (cannabis prohibition).
How to Address the Issue?
Ultimately, it is up to lawmakers in Spain to pass comprehensive cannabis reform at the national level in order to get Barcelona’s emerging cannabis industry built on a solid legal foundation. Local leaders in Barcelona previously adopted a limited regulatory model for cannabis clubs just to see the policy later thrown out by the nation’s top Court, so there’s likely nothing meaningful that can be done at the local level.
Public pressure must reach a critical mass to hold lawmakers accountable when they drag their feet on cannabis reform, and if they will still refrain from taking meaningful action, they need to be replaced with people that will act. Any pressure campaign must involve a heavy dose of public education to combat any misinformation being spread by opponents, and to help convince people that are on the fence about the issue to get on the right side of history.
Leaders Coming Together
Barcelona’s rich cannabis history and culture makes it once again the perfect backdrop to the International Cannabis Business Conference trade show, taking place March 9, 2023. Cannabis policymakers and industry leaders from all over the globe will be in attendance, and one of the major focuses of the conference will be how to move Spain’s industry forward.
The International Cannabis Business Conference is the leading cannabis business to business (B2B) event series on the planet, with previous conferences occurring in several countries on multiple continents. The event series is owned and operated by cannabis advocates that believe in celebrating cannabis culture, in addition to providing world-class cannabis industry education and networking opportunities.
The International Cannabis Business Conference has once again partnered with Spannabis, Europe’s top cannabis expo, to form another super-event that is a must-attend for anyone that is serious about succeeding in the emerging cannabis industry. Spannabis originally teamed up with the International Cannabis Business Conference in 2019, and the collaboration was a tremendous success. The 2023 super-event will be bigger and better than ever, with the collaboration event being the largest of its kind. Participating speakers and an event schedule will be announced soon.
Could Malta Help Move the Needle?
One thing that will be interesting to observe is what is currently unfolding in Malta. Malta passed a national adult-use legalization measure late last year, making it the first country in Europe to do so.
The measure was largely built on the premise of consumers obtaining their cannabis from non-profit cannabis clubs. The only other way for adults to obtain cannabis is to cultivate it themselves or to be gifted it.
It is unclear right now how long it will be after applications are initially collected before the first regulated club is opened, however, things do seem to be moving along. Once Malta officially rolls out its cannabis club licenses and sets up all the processes and regulations pertaining to it, it will have created a blueprint for other countries to mimic, including and especially Spain.