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Catalonia legalizes marijuana clubs
By Jerry Brownstein
The days of Catalonia’s cannabis clubs operating in a legal limbo are coming to an end, as the Catalan Parliament approved new laws to regulate the cultivation, consumption, and transport of adult-use cannabis. This marks the first time that a major European region will effectively make cannabis a legal commodity. It took three years to craft this law because “We did not want to do something halfway,” said Alba Vergés, of the Ministry of Health of the Parliament. They wanted to avoid the type of “backdoor law” which has existed for decades in Amsterdam, where selling marijuana is legal but cultivation is still run by the black market. That is why this new law also regulates growing, and allows each cannabis club to produce up to 150 kg of dried marijuana per year.
The lawmakers were very clear that they do not want to promote “marijuana tourism” with people from other countries flocking to these clubs just to get high. To that end, anyone who applies to be a member of a cannabis club must wait 15 days before they can join and buy marijuana. There are also restrictions to discourage overuse by young people. Club members who are over the age of 21 can purchase up to 60 grams per month, but those between 18-21 are only permitted 20 grams per month. These limits do not apply to people who use marijuana for medical purposes. Consumption of alcohol or marijuana edibles are not allowed in the clubs.
The cannabis clubs welcome this decision because in the words of one owner: “We have been working for many years with one foot in the law and another one out.” Catalonia has taken a major step toward more logical drug laws, and in the words of Alba Vergés: “This law sends a very clear message that it’s time for a paradigm shift when it comes to legislating drugs.”