The Legal Situation of Cannabis in Spain 

Some cannabis tourists have declared Barcelona as the ‘new Amsterdam’, with better weather, more beautiful nature and cheaper prices. The Spanish pendants to the coffeeshops in Amsterdam are called ‘social clubs’ and they offer a variety of different strains, seats and entertainment facilities. But is cannabis really legal in Spain? What is the legal situation of cannabis in Spain? Let’s dive right in.

Related: How Germany’s Hemp Association Fights Cannabis Criminalisation

Is cannabis legal in Spain?

The import, trade or sale of cannabis is a criminal offence in Spain and can be punished with one to three years in jail. However, the possession and consumption of cannabis is decriminalised and will be punished with a minimum fine of €300 if you consume or carry marijuana in public spaces. The consumption, possession and even cultivation is legal in private places, as long as it is neither visible to the public nor for commercial use.

This means, in essence, that cultivating cannabis at your own home can still be very risky as you have to prove that it is for your own consumption only. To eliminate the risk of being fetched to justify and explain your cultivation, you should be extremely discreet about it, as your neighbours should not know about it, otherwise the status of ‘private’ might be lacking.

 

Recreational marijuana

The drug law does not interfere with private places, which is why so-called ‘social clubs’ exploited this legal loophole to establish coffeeshop-like places where cannabis can be bought and consumed. Since it is illegal to cultivate cannabis for commercial use, social clubs often have very cheap prices, e.g. €4 per gram, to maintain their status as non-profit organisations. Also, members are restricted to a monthly allowance of 40g. Furthermore, to remain truly private, those social clubs raise a small annual membership fee (usually €25).

Although memberships are officially limited to Spanish residents, many of those social clubs distribute flyers to attract cannabis tourists. Under Spanish law, members must be above 21 years old and be a club member for at least 15 days before they are being given the privilege to buy or consume marijuana. Also, current members must approve your application.

It is important to realise that the sale of cannabis is strictly prohibited. The cultivation in the social clubs takes place on behalf of its members, and the members contribute money to cover the expenses of the process. A sale, on the contrary, is a criminal offence.

 

CBD cultivation

The cultivation of cannabis, regardless of its tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) percentage, must be authorised by the Spanish Agency for Medicines and Medical Products (AEMPS) if the flowers are cultivated to extract cannabinoids. The sale of cannabis seeds is only permitted if the seeds are sourced from the Approved European Hemp Seed Catalogue. What’s more, any cannabis product is prohibited for sale if the THC content is more than 0.2 percent.

According to Miguel Torres, a Spanish lawyer, ‘[…] CBD may be used as an ingredient in the manufacture of cosmetics.’ He also says that ‘cannabis seed oil is already used as a cosmetic, and several companies have launched product lines based on this seed oil. With regard to CBD, there is a legal vacuum given that the European regulation prohibits the use of narcotic drugs as an ingredient but does not expressly prohibit CBD, which is neither narcotic nor psychotropic.’

 

Other CBD products

Under spanish law, the sale of CBD enriched products is illegal. Therefore, CBD can only be sold for external use only, as a cosmetic cream or balm.

 

Medical marijuana

Across Spain, there is only one medical marijuana program, which was launched in Catalonia in 2005. The program involves 60 drugstores, 40 researchers and 600 patients and was set up to research the medical benefits and side effects of cannabis.

Although Spain is cutting corners when it comes to medical marijuana, medical cannabis is widely accessible to its population through social clubs.

 

Industrial hemp

In Spain, the cultivation of industrial hemp has been permitted for more than 20 years, at least the cultivation of 25 specific industrial strains. The seeds must be EU-certified and the hemp plants’ THC potency must be below 0.2 percent. Today, the only region that has continued to grow industrial hemp is Catalonia with some 900 hectares under cultivation. This hemp is mainly cultivated for the textile and seed production.

 

Recap

To give you a brief summary of the current laws and expectations in Spain, here is an overview of the different legal aspects.

 

Recreational marijuana

Current status: Illegal, but legal in private places (such as your own home or social clubs). Possession and consumption is decriminalised and punished with a minimum fine of €300.

Trend: Probably following the EU guidelines.

 

CBD cannabis flowers

Current status: Illegal, but legal in private places (such as your own home or social clubs). Possession and consumption is decriminalised and punished with a minimum fine of €300.

Trend: Potentially becoming more strict.

 

CBD

Current status: Ilegal with the exception of cosmetics, such as CBD balms and creams.

Trend: No clear trend at the moment.

 

Medical marijuana

Current status: Legal for personal and private use.

Trend: The government is researching the benefits of medical cannabis.

 

Industrial hemp

Current status: Legal as long as the authorised plants’ THC content is less than 0.2 percent.

Trend: No clear trend at the moment.

 

Closing thoughts

Although the consumption and possession of cannabis in Spain is technically illegal, it is only punished if it is done in public spaces. With 32.6 percent of the Spanish population having consumed cannabis in the past or still consuming it today and over 700 social clubs, cannabis consumption is widely spread across Spain. Especially if you acknowledge the fact that those figures are three to five years old.

While the interest in cannabis rises, the Spanish Prime Minister, Pedro Sánchez, has very little interest in legalising marijuana and said the following: ‘I’m focused on what I’m doing now. I have enough problems as it is.’

 

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