Barcelona's status as a prime hotspot for cannabis aficionados might be in jeopardy as the City Council deliberates on stricter measures governing entry to cannabis social clubs.

For years, these clubs have been a magnet for both residents and visitors to Barcelona, providing a sanctioned way to partake in cannabis while sidestepping the illicit trade. This is particularly relevant in Spain, where cannabis for personal use remains outlawed.

Now, a report from, a Spanish online news outlet, reveals that the City Council is evaluating strategies to legally shutter cannabis social clubs.

A renewed crackdown is in motion, with the Guàrdia Urbana of Barcelona, the city's police force, targeting roughly twenty cannabis clubs. This marks a departure from their previously lenient stance.

At a City Council meeting on December 22, Albert Batlle, Deputy Mayor for Prevention and Security and a noted critic of cannabis, reportedly pledged to "eliminate" the cannabis clubs.

Despite this strong stance, the councilor admitted that closing the clubs might not be straightforward and could necessitate changing the law.

Operators of the clubs who spoke to revealed that the latest inspections are unlike the past, focusing not on technicalities but whether the clubs permit or endorse cannabis use.

This isn't a novel situation for Barcelona's cannabis social clubs, which have faced threats of shutdown previously.

Attempts to close them began in 2014. They managed to reopen by adhering to "La Rosa Verda" (The Green Rose), a local ordinance that was later nullified by the Spanish Supreme Court in 2021.

Following the nullification, the clubs lost their legal shield but continued to exploit a loophole by reclassifying themselves as "private social clubs."

However, the City Council's current stance and concerted efforts could mean a severe crackdown on these clubs.

In a country where cannabis is illegal, Spanish cannabis social clubs have operated in a legal gray zone, permitting members to grow and consume cannabis in privacy. To obtain cannabis in cities like Barcelona, locals and tourists join these clubs through a membership fee, which grants them cannabis access and use of the social facilities.

The Spanish cannabis social club model, with over 4 million users, not only has a huge local impact but also draws an estimated annual tourist crowd of 6.6 to 12.4 million consumers, according to data from New Frontier Data. The variety of clubs in Barcelona range widely in size, and while they boast substantial membership figures, the transient nature of tourist members means the actual count varies.

The model's triumph in Spain has sparked interest across Europe, with countries keen on regulating individual cannabis use taking note. Following Malta's lead, which legalized cannabis for personal use in December 2021 and allowed social clubs, Germany is also on the cusp of legalization, looking to integrate cannabis social clubs into its legal framework.