Spain’s narcotic laws, which allow cultivation and consumption of marijuana for personal use, have become a loophole for drug mafias to run illegal businesses.
The cannabis clubs in Spain are meant to provide a comfortable environment for marijuana users. The clubs were supposed to grow the plant within the premises, with only members allowed to partake. Today, Spain has become home to over 700 cannabis clubs known as associations (asociaciónes). More than half of the number is centered within Catalonia’s borders.
A purely safe zone for people to buy and smoke marijuana for health and recreational purposes has turned into a burgeoning drug business with export links as mafias infiltrate the market.
According to a report by the Catalan police, the ambiguous rules have paved the way for darker forces into the region. With crumbled tourism, the cannabis industry has thrived considerably. The police believe Catalonia has become Europe’s hub for illegal marijuana trade.
The report states that Catalonia’s market is lucrative, with minimal risks in legal consequences. With jail terms that rarely surpass two years, Europe’s criminal gangs are fighting each other for control of the market. The report adds that the Catalan police have dismantled 34 criminal groups over the past year alone, with links to the illegal cannabis trade and destroyed over 300 secret plantations.
The Deputy Chief of Catalonia’s crime squad, Ramon Chacon, told the press that Spain’s ambiguous legal structure and low prices had turned the country into a major marijuana producer. He added that Spain might end up like other countries which had gone down a similar path.
Considering the cannabis clubs are allowed by law to produce the drug depending on their memberships, Chacon worries that mafias are using the associations as fronts to bypass the legal system.
Catalonia has witnessed a high rate of cannabis consumption compared to the rest of Spain, with Barcelona alone harboring over 150 clubs.