Spain: New Cannabis Smokers Outnumber New Tobacco Smokers
Legal tobacco use has been around for ages, to the point where it is seen as common place. But for the first time ever, new cannabis smokers outnumber new tobacco smokers.
The tolerance of Spanish law, and the forward thinking nature of its people, is quickly establishing the country as one of the leading forces in the fight to end prohibition in Europe. This has recently been further emphasised by a government study, which found the amount of new cannabis smokers now outweighs the amount of new tobacco smokers.
It’s quite an astonishing turn of events! The data, which was from 2013, shows that 169,000 Spaniards started using cannabis, compared to just 142,000 who started using tobacco. It is the first time we know of where new cannabis users have outweighed tobacco – a substance that is both legal and has a deep ingrained acceptance of use within Europe.
ARE CANNABIS CLUBS THE ANSWER?
Although there are many factors at play here, the emergence of cannabis clubs across the country is likely to be one of the leading causes for this rise. Under Spanish law, cannabis is ok to grow privately for personal use. It is one of the biggest oddities of Spain, as its government is one of the most conservative in the entirety of Europe. We are not complaining though, as it allows these private clubs to establish themselves.
Basically, a cannabis club is an exclusive club where cannabis is grown and then distributed amongst its members. Each member pays a regular membership fee, which goes towards the running of the club and the costs involved in growing cannabis. No cannabis is actually sold.
It is an extremely responsible way to show that world that cannabis can be an acceptable substance. Not only does break the reliance on the black market – taking money out of the hands of criminals – it also ensures that the weed people are receiving is grown to a high quality, as members are often involved in deciding what and how things are grown. Members must be at least 21 years of age, and access to the clubs is strictly controlled - with an interview often being necessary to join, or an endorsement from a current member. The clubs are also not allowed to advertise membership. It may all seem heavy handed, but in a world where cannabis isn’t really accepted yet, showing that membership selection is taken seriously goes a long way to ease sceptical minds.
As you can imagine, the idea of joining an exclusive and legal cannabis club has appealed too many, and both recreational and medical users have flocked to them. However, this peaceful, private and beneficial enterprise has not gone unnoticed, and has become the target of various politicians looking to boost their popularity with the more conservative crowds. One such is the Mayor of Barcelona, who is threatening to clamp down on the city’s cannabis clubs under the pretence of disrupted public order. In response, the cannabis clubs have banded together and launched a campaign of transparency, to educate and inform the general populace as to exactly what they do, and how they regulate themselves – helping dispel any hearsay and misconceptions that may be floating about. It is hoped the move will sway public opinion in favour of the clubs, or at least, convince people that they are safe to be left alone.
You can check out the video the campaign has put together below, designed and edited by the Catalan Federation of Cannabis Smokers.