Barcelona Is Closing Down One Third Of Its Cannabis Clubs

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Barcelona Is Closing Down One Third Of Its Cannabis Clubs

Is the city getting nervous about its reputation or is this a step towards an integrated and regulated cannabis industry?

When it comes to cannabis clubs, Spain has been at the forefront of the development. Particularly in Barcelona, cannabis clubs have sprouting up in the hundreds, prompting some to consider Barcelona the next Amsterdam. However, already since the city council passed a 1-year veto against the opening of new clubs, a new trend seems to take shape. Following on the heels of the veto, the city has just ordered the closure of around one-third of its official cannabis clubs.

This crusade follows the inspection of 145 of the fasted growing clubs, assessing them for code deficiencies and violations – in which 50 of them were found to be in breach of. These violations included things like selling illegally acquired weed, trying to attract non-members onto the premises, and poor ventilation.

Good news or bad news?

It’s easy to discount any club closure as a move backwards, away from a more liberal policy. However, in this case it might actually be a blessing in disguise. As with any industry anywhere in the world, rules are the name of the game. Similar to the coffee shops in Amsterdam, there are relatively strict rules that apply for each location, ranging from ventilation infrastructure to advertisement limits and zoning regulations. The enforcement those laws is not something only cannabis clubs have to deal with - every business needs to adhere to those laws.

Considering that 95 clubs passed the inspections and remain open for business shows that the city’s intent most likely wasn’t to close down clubs in a radical move, but rather establish the common codes in this emerging industry. It is almost impossible to judge how many of those 50 clubs were truly in violating of codes, or to what extent the city just wanted to reduce the amount of clubs. However, it is safe to assume that a fair number of clubs indeed did violate codes, as there is no shortage of codes you can easily violate.

If the city council is not misusing code inspections as a means to close down the clubs, then - and only then - this recent series of closure can actually be considered a positive sign. If there is no hidden agenda, it means that the city is treating cannabis clubs like any other business that needs to adhere to the given codes. Cleaning out the businesses that are just in it for a quick buck and disregard the codes is an important step in establishing a socially and economically integrated market that can ultimately lead to the kind of cannabis industry we’d all like to work in.