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David Pere Martínez Oró (Ph...
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Cannabis social clubs. normalisation, neoliberalism, political opportunities and prohibition


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In Spain, the cannabis movement has been demanding a review of prohibitionist policies for over thirty years. The movement has taken advantage of gaps in the legal framework to set out a formula for cannabis clubs, in order to supply cannabis collectively. Clubs, among other requirements, may not make a profit. This text analyses the influence of socio-cultural normalisation of cannabis, the current social context (economic crisis) and hegemonic discourse (neoliberalism, consumerism, etc.) as being responsible for the opening of hundreds of clubs since 2011, especially in Barcelona. This has led to the emergence of club management models which do not conform to jurisprudence. This situation, along with the undeniable reality of cannabis use, has offered the cannabis movement a political opportunity to regulate clubs, an opportunity in which synergies have emerged in Catalonia, Navarre and the Basque country. Finally, it reflects on how prohibition has hampered the activities of clubs despite social and legal advances that have occurred in recent years.

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Cannabis social clubs. normalisation, neoliberalism, political opportunities and prohibition

  1. 1. 1 CANNABIS SOCIAL CLUBS: NORMALISATION, NEOLIBERALISM, POLITICAL OPPORTUNITIES AND PROHIBITION David Pere Martínez Oró (PhD) Drug Policy Unit, Autonomous University of Barcelona Abstract   In  Spain,  the  cannabis  movement  has  been  demanding  a  review  of  prohibitionist  policies   for  over  thirty  years.  The  movement  has  taken  advantage  of  gaps  in  the  legal  framework  to   set  out  a  formula  for  cannabis  clubs,  in  order  to  supply  cannabis  collectively.  Clubs,  among   other   requirements,   may   not   make   a   profit.   This   text   analyses   the   influence   of   socio-­‐ cultural   normalisation   of   cannabis,   the   current   social   context   (economic   crisis)   and   hegemonic   discourse   (neoliberalism,   consumerism,   etc.)   as   being   responsible   for   the   opening   of   hundreds   of   clubs   since   2011,   especially   in   Barcelona.   This   has   led   to   the   emergence   of   club   management   models   which   do   not   conform   to   jurisprudence.   This   situation,   along   with   the   undeniable   reality   of   cannabis   use,   has   offered   the   cannabis   movement  a  political  opportunity  to  regulate  clubs,  an  opportunity  in  which  synergies  have   emerged   in   Catalonia,   Navarre   and   the   Basque   country.   Finally,   it   reflects   on   how   prohibition  has  hampered  the  activities  of  clubs  despite  social  and  legal  advances  that  have   occurred  in  recent  years.     Key   words:   drugs   policies,   cannabis   social   clubs,   political   opportunities,   regulation   and   neoliberalism.   INTRODUCTION Drug  prohibition  policies  maintained  by  the  international  control  conventions  of  the  United   Nations1,  show  glaring  evidence  of  failure  due  to  the  impossibility  of  achieving  the  intended   goals   (Arana,   2013:   130).   In   particular:   reducing   the   plantations   of   coca,   opium   and   cannabis,   eliminating   international   drug   trafficking,   and   precluding   the   consumption   of   controlled   substances.   All   this   means   that   it   is   a   pipe   dream   to   believe   it   is   possible   to   achieve  the  Declaration  of  the  United  Nations  Office  on  Drugs  and  Crime  (UNODC),  when  in   1998   it   declared   "a   drug-­‐free   world:   we   can   do   it!"   (Wodak,   2014:   191).   Global   prohibitionist  policy  has  also  caused  immense  damage  to  vulnerable  populations,  and  has   continuously  broken  the  International  Bill  of  Human  Rights  (Mena  and  Hobbs,  2010:  66-­‐ 67).  In  view  of  the  meagre  results,  the  economic  costs  are  unsustainable.  Rolles,  Murkin,   Powell,  Kushlick  and  Slater  (2012:  16)  estimate  the  cost  of  the  application  of  the  law  in  the   fight  against  drugs  at  least  $100  billion  a  year.  The  market  for  controlled  drugs  generates   1  Single  Convention  on  Narcotic  Drugs,  New  York,  1961,  which  was  supplemented  by  the  Convention  on   Psychotropic  Substances  of  Vienna,  1971,  and  the  United  Nations  Convention  against  Illicit  Traffic  in   Narcotic  Drugs  and  Psychotropic  Substances  of  1988,  also  in  Vienna.
  2. 2. 2 $330   billion   a   year.   This   turnover   allows   criminal   organisations,   especially   in   Latin   American   countries   to   "undermine   government   institutions   and   the   state   through   corruption  and  intimidation,  blurs  the  boundaries  between  legal  and  illegal  economies  and   threatens  the  economic  stability  of  nations  and  entire  regions"  (Rolles  et  al.,  2012:  22).   Given   the   blatant   disaster   that   is   prohibition,   activists,   academics,   professionals   and   a   minority   of   politicians   have   spoken   out   about   the   need   to   find   pragmatic   and   sensible   alternatives   to   the   classification   of   drugs   in   the   international   control   system   (Hallam,   Bewley-­‐Taylor  and  Jelsma,  2014;  Monaghan,  2014).  Over  the  last  few  years,  more  and  more   countries   have   joined   the   debate   about   new   drugs   policies,   especially   in   relation   to   cannabis   (Rolles   and   Murkin,   2014;   Room   et   al,   2013,   Rosmarin   and   Eastwood,   2012;   Blickman  and  Jelsma,  2009;  Jelsma,  2009).  The  result  should  be  a  revision  of  the  United   Nations   drug   conventions   and   the   creation   of   a   new   legal   framework   that   defeats   drug   trafficking,  money  laundering  and  the  criminalisation  of  users  (Bewley-­‐Taylor,  2012).  As   Bewley-­‐Taylor,  Blickman  and  Jelsma  (2014:  7)  state,  the  2016  UNGASS  on  drugs  represents   an   excellent   opportunity   to   modify   the   control   treaties   and   also   the   current   status   of   cannabis.     The  winds  of  change  in  cannabis  policy,  following  Montañés'  metaphor  (2014),  have  begun   to   break   the   ice   at   various   points   on   the   prohibitionist   plane.   Uruguay   is   the   standard   bearer  of  the  new  policies  on  cannabis.  On  10  December  the  Uruguayan  Senate  approved   the  19.172  law  allowing  access  to  cannabis  under  certain  conditions.  This  model  is  social-­‐ democratic   because   it   is   the   State,   through   the   Institute   of   Regulation   and   Control   of   Cannabis   (IRCCA),   which   oversees   the   process   of   controlling   plantations   supplying   cannabis   for   personal   use,   the   operation   of   cannabis   clubs2  and   the   production   and   processing  for  sale  in  pharmacies3.  In  the  United  States  it  has  been  possible  to  buy  cannabis   legally  in  Colorado  since  January  2014  and  in  Washington  since  July  2014.  In  Alaska  and   Oregon   on   November   4,   2014   the   sale   of   recreational   cannabis   was   approved   by   referendum  and  in  the  next  few  years  the  system  of  how  cannabis  will  be  legally  accessed   will  be  specified.  As  Montañés  (2014:  79)  points  out  in  relation  to  Colorado  -­‐  but  extending   to   all   the   U.S.   -­‐   the   model   is   based   on   neo-­‐liberal   policies   and   the   free   market,   where   regulation   is   due   to   a   certain   "fundraising   spirit".   The   political-­‐economic   model   to   be   adopted  by  new  drug  policies  and  regulatory  framework  derivatives  represents  a  central   aspect   of   the   discussion.   Other   countries   in   Latin   America   such   as   Mexico,   Chile,   Brazil,   Jamaica  and  Guatemala  are  also  discussing  alternatives  to  prohibition.     Spain  finds  itself  at  the  fringes  of  the  discussion  on  new  drug  policies,  due  in  large  part  to   the  emergence  of  hundreds  of  clubs4.  A  Cannabis  club  is  a  non-­‐profit  whose  members  can   2  From  this  point  on,  the  word  "clubs"  will  refer  exclusively  to  cannabis  clubs.   3  According  to  Montañés  (2014:  65)  "On  2  May  2014,  the  president  of  the  JND,  Diego  Canepa,  held  a  press   conference   to   present   the   regulations   of   the   law.   Pharmacies   will   start   selling   recreational   cannabis   in   November  this  year  at  $1  per  gram"  As  of  1  July  2015  this  had  not  yet  happened  and  there  appears  to  be  no   sign  of  imminent  implementation.     4  It  is  impossible  to  find  out  the  exact  number  of  clubs  but  it  is  estimated  that  there  are  between  500  and   600,  of  which  350  are  located  in  Catalonia  and  75  in  the  Basque  Country  (Blickman,  2014).  Although  the   first   club   was   founded   in   2001   it   was   not   until   2011   when   the   number   of   clubs   began   to   increase   exponentially.
  3. 3. 3 acquire  cannabis  without  entering  the  black  market  and  whose  operation  is  possible  due  to   the  jurisprudence  of  the  Spanish  legal  system  (Carmena,  2012).  Despite  the  overtones,  such   clubs   can   be   deemed   to   be   conforming   to   the   jurisprudence   if   they   meet   the   following   requirements:  1)  It  is  a  legally  constituted  association  of  adult  consumers  of  cannabis.  2)   Only  members  can  access  the  association's  premises,  which  must  comply  with  health  and   safety  standards.  3)  The  supply  circuit  is  closed,  i.e.  only  members  are  supplied  from  the   association's  plantations,  ensuring  planning  for  demand  and  avoiding  excess.  4)  No  profit  is   generated.  5)  No  advertising  strategies  are  executed  to  recruit  members.   The   existence   of   clubs   is   a   result   of   the   cannabis   movement's   long   struggle   to   defend   personal   liberties   (Marín,   2008:   222-­‐223).   The   advance   has   been   possible   by   repeated   assaults   on   the   Spanish   wall   of   prohibition,   with   the   objective   -­‐   amongst   others   -­‐   of   acquiring   cannabis   without   breaking   the   law.   As   (Barriuso,   2012a)   points   out,   the   CSC   model   is   based   "on   the   gradual   development   of   principles   derived   in   piecemeal   fashion   from  the  Supreme  Court's  doctrine  on  so-­‐called  "shared  consumption"  […].  CSCs  have  been   formed   based   on   filling   the   gaps   left   by   legislation,   gaps   whose   dimensions   are   not   yet   clear.  The  path  has  been  tortuous  and  full  of  vicissitudes  due  to  the  criminalising  logic  of   prohibition,  but  the  overlap  between  the  cannabis  movement,  political  opportunities  and   normalisation  have  enabled  the  current  system  of  clubs  to  develop  in  the  country.  It  has   also  fuelled  political  debate  on  how  it  should  be  regulated,  which  has  been  crystallised  in   regional  regulations  and  bylaws     THE CANNABIS MOVEMENT VS THE WALL OF PROHBITION: THE EMERGENCE OF CANNABIS CLUBS The  roots  of  the  cannabis  movement  can  be  found  in  the  youth  counterculture  of  the  sixties   and  seventies  (Romaní,  2004:  88-­‐94).  But  it  was  not  until  the  death  of  the  dictator  Franco   that  the  first  voices  openly  favourable  to  the  legalisation  of  cannabis  were  heard  (González   Duro,   1979,   Usó,   1996:   299).   The   public   faces   of   this   debate   were   certain   left-­‐wing   politicians   and   publications   such   as   the   legendary   magazine   Ajoblanco   (Usó,   1996:   298-­‐   299).   Since   then   the   anti-­‐prohibition   movement   has   seen   fluctuations   in   its   activity   and   social   visibility.   During   the   eighties   it   was   rarely   taken   into   consideration   and   almost   silenced   as   a   result   of   the   fight   against   "the   Drug   Problem"   (Usó,   2013:   67-­‐69).   The   dominance  of  the  morality  brigade  prevented  a  sensible  discussion  from  being  maintained   because   it   believed   that   the   only   valid   strategy   to   address   the   "terrible   problem"   was   a   heavy-­‐handed  one  (Gonzalez,  Funes,  Gonzalez,  Mayor  and  Romaní,  1989:  45).  Despite  little   public  visibility  and  no  political  discussion  on  alternatives  to  prohibition,  throughout  the   nineties  more  and  more  professionals  and  academics  -­‐  for  the  most  part  dedicated  to  harm-­‐ reduction   -­‐   began   to   criticise   prohibition   and   demand   a   much-­‐needed   debate   on   drug   policy  (Romaní,  2005).   The   first   milestone   of   the   cannabis   movement   was   reached   in   1993   with   the   collective   plantation   of   the   Ramon   Santos   Association   for   Cannabis   Studies   (ARSEC).   According   to   (Barriuso,   2011:   3)   ARSEC   asked   the   anti-­‐drug   prosecutor   if   it   was   a   crime   to   grow   cannabis  collectively  to  supply  themselves,  to  which  the  answer  came  back  that  in  principle   it   was   not   an   offense   to   cultivate   cannabis   for   personal   consumption   among   adult   consumers.  However,  the  plantation  was  confiscated  and  the  growers  eventually  convicted,   following  an  appeal  to  the  Supreme  Court.  The  sentence  concluded  that  "the  cultivation  of   cannabis  was  dangerous  per  se  and  must  be  punished  "(Barriuso,  2011:  3).  The  plantation  
  4. 4. 4 opened  up  the  so-­‐called  "Catalan  Breach"  (Borrallo,  1997)  because  it  represented  the  first   solid  blow  against  the  wall  of  prohibition,  even  though  a  priori  the  sentence  implied  that   collective  cannabis  plantations  were  not  possible  (Barriuso,  2011:  3)  .     The   breach   was   widened   by   the   Bilbao   Kalamudia   Association,   which   created   collective   plantations  in  1997,  1999  and  2000.  These  were  reported  to  the  authorities  but  they  were   harvested  without  hindrance  (Barriuso,  2011:  3).  Another  crack  can  be  seen  in  the  form  of   the  Muñoz  and  Soto  Report  (2001),  which  analysed  the  legal  feasibility  of  establishments   whose  activity  would  be  the  supply  of  cannabis  for  therapeutic  purposes.  In  practice  this   report  represents  a  "legal  framework  document"  for    clubs  as  it  lists  the  characteristics  that   must   be   met   to   self-­‐supply   without   breaking   the   law   and   is   complemented   by   the   Díez   Ripollés  and  Muñoz  obiter  dictum  (2012).     Under   the   conviction   that   it   was   lawful   to   form   members   associations   to   self-­‐supply   cannabis  and  represented  individual  freedom,  in  2001  the  country's  first  cannabis  club,  the   "Cannabis  Tasters  Club  Barcelona",  was  established.  The  club  split  with  previous  research   associations  in  explicitly  specifying  in  its  articles  of  association  the  intention  of  producing   and   consuming   cannabis.   The   first   cannabis   clubs   conformed   strictly   with   the   jurisprudence  in  carrying  out  their  activities  without  breaking  the  law,  but  there  was  no   guarantee  of  legal  impunity.  This  left  space  for  prohibitionists  to  thwart  any  activity  related   to  controlled  substances  (Barriuso,  2012b:  174).     During  the  first  decade  of  the  21st  century  clubs  sprung  up  all  around  Spain,  especially  in   the  Basque  Country  and  Catalonia  (Blickman,  2014).  The  vast  majority  of  these  clubs  joined   the   FAC   (Federation   of   Cannabis   Associations)5,   whose   members   have   a   long   history   of   anti-­‐prohibition   activism,   argue   for   a   cooperative   model   where   members   play   an   active   role   in   decision-­‐making   and   comply   with   the   premise   of   the   closed   circuit   (Barriuso,   2012a).   Despite   clubs'   lack   of   relevancy   among   the   general   public,   security   forces   and   prosecutors  were  determined  to  crack  down  on  them,  as  proven  by  the  various  seizures   and  arrests  (Usó,  2009;  2005).  In  2005  police  seized  marijuana  belonging  to  the  Pannah   Association   but   it   was   returned   in   2007   because   a   judge   found   that   no   crime   had   been   committed.  This  incident  reinforced  the  legitimacy  of  claims  by  the  cannabis  movement.   Barriuso  (2011:  4)  notes  that  this  fact  "can  be  considered  the  starting  signal  for  a  boom  of   new  associations  that  seek  to  set  up  their  own  production  of  cannabis."   A   socio-­‐historical   analysis   of   events   in   recent   years   in   the   "cannabis   world"   shows   the   influence  of  various  phenomena  that  are  key  to  understanding  the  current  situation,  which   is   characterised   by   the   increasing   number   of   clubs   and   discussion   on   the   regulatory   framework.  The  elements  are:     • The  process  of  normalisation  of  controlled  substances,  especially  cannabis.   5  The  FAC  website  states  that  "  The  Spanish  Federation  of  Cannabis  Associations  is  a  group  of  cannabis  user   associations  from  around  the  country  who  share  ideas  about  regulation  which  should  serve  society.  Thus,   all  associations  in  the  federation,  including  growers,  researchers  and  users,  aim  to  provide  safe  access  to   cannabis  for  all  users,  respecting  their  rights  as  users  and  putting  distance  between  themselves  and   the  dangers  of  the  black  market".  The  bold  highlighting  is  mine.  
  5. 5. 5 • Defragmentation  of  the  model  proposed  by  the  FAC  for  cannabis  clubs,  due  to   the   influence   of   hegemonic   discourses   (entrepreneurship,   neoliberalism,   the   consumer  society,  etc.),  which  has  led  to  clubs  becoming  a  niche  business.     • Political  opportunities  for  the  cannabis  movement  arising  from  the  undeniable   reality  of  the  clubs.     • Prohibition,   which   despite   the   changes   in   recent   years   poses   a   threat   to   the   functioning  of  the  clubs  and  limits  personal  freedom  of  consumers.     THE NORMALISATION PROCESS AS A CATALYST FOR CLUBS Normalisation  is  a  macro-­‐social  phenomenon  which  has  enabled  the  emergence  of  clubs   because,  among  the  consequences,  it  implies  accepting  cannabis  and  cannabis  clubs  as  part   of   social   reality   (Arana,   2005:   131-­‐135).   Taking   place   in   Western   Europe   over   the   last   twenty  years  (Parker,  2005),  normalisation  is  the  socio-­‐historical  process  by  which  certain   controlled   substances,   including   cannabis,   move   from   a   marginalised   position   into   mainstream   society   (Martinez   Oró,   2014a:   95-­‐98;   Parker,   Aldridge   and   Measham,   1998:   122-­‐125).  The  core  elements  of  normalisation  are:  decreasing  the  alarm  caused  by  the  "the   Drugs  Problem",  the  spread  of  consumption  with  a  consequent  increase  in  the  number  of   consumers,  changes  in  the  way  drugs  are  obtained,  and  above  all,  greater  social  tolerance   and   less   stigmatisation   of   consumers   (Martinez   Oró   2014a:   99-­‐122).   All   these   elements   have   caused   cultural   integration   of   cannabis,   i.e.,   society   has   adapted   to   the   reality   of   cannabis  use,  allowing  coexistence  to  become  less  problematic  (Martinez  Oró,  et  al.,  2010;   Aldridge,  Measham  and  Williams,  2011).  A  clear  example  of  how  much  social  normalisation   has   been   achieved   can   be   observed   in   the   fact   that   it   now   is   the   cannabis   movement   pressing   public   administrations   to   discuss   the   "issue   of   clubs"   and   not   citizens   worried   about  preventing  the  "virus"  of  drugs  (Martinez  Oró  and  Pallares,  2013:  32-­‐33).     According   to   Vibeke,   Christensen   and   Vibeke   (2014)   for   most   consumers,   cannabis   is   a   practial  way  to  achieve  desired  pleasurable  states  of  mind.  To  others,  consumption  is  an   action  of  self-­‐care,  a  way  to  forget  the  suffocating  reality  of  their  daily  lives  (Martinez  Oró,   2014b).  The  stigma  attached  to  consumption  has  also  been  diluted  and  fewer  people  now   stigmatise   a   person   simply   because   of   cannabis   use   (Aldridge,   2008:   199;   Hathaway,   Comeau  and  Erickson,  2011:  465).  Normalisation  is  accentuated  when  people  of  all  ages   consume,   regardless   of   socioeconomic   level,   gender   (Zalakain,   2012:   60-­‐66)   or   belief   system   -­‐   unless   it   interferes   with   their   daily   duties   (Romaní,   2015).   Its   presence   is   so   ubiquitous  that  Bilckman  (2014:  2)  speaks  of  a  de  facto  decriminalisation  of  cannabis.     In  recent  years,  social  alarm  caused  by  public  safety  concerns  about  "the  Drugs  Problem"   (robberies,   thefts,   dumping   of   syringes...)   has   decreased   to   such   an   extent   that   it   has   reached  the  point  where,  in  May  2014,  only  0.1%  of  Spaniards  felt  that  it  represented  a   social  problem  (CIS,  2014).  This  decrease  in  social  alarm  has  led  to  the  question  of  drugs   being  dropped  from  the  political  agenda  (Comas,  2002:  90-­‐92).  The  interweaving  of  lesser   hysteria  with  greater  social  tolerance  has  meant  that  in  response  to  the  emergence  of  clubs,   part  of  the  population  tolerates  them  and  the  vast  majority  are  indifferent  to  their  presence   as  long  as  they  are  not  affected  by  their  existence.  In  this  regard,  a  study  by  GESOP  notes   that  77.6%  of  Catalans  believe  cannabis  clubs  should  be  regulated;  it  also  shows  that  43.4%  
  6. 6. 6 are  in  favour  of  legalising  marijuana.6  In  relation  to  the  legalisation  of  cannabis,  according   to   the   August   2014   Euro   barometer,   47%   of   young   Spaniards   (15-­‐24   years)   felt   that   cannabis  should  be  legalised.  And  according  to  Rodríguez  S,  Megías  V.,  Megías  Q.,  Rodríguez   F.  and  Rubio  (2014:  76)  46.2%  of  Spaniards  are  of  the  view  that  "regulated  sale  to  adults  in   pharmacies   or   other   authorised   sites   should   be   allowed"   while   5.9   per   cent   think   "unrestricted  sale  to  adults  should  be  allowed".  In  total,  52.2%  of  Spaniards  envisage  some   kind  of  regulated  access  to  cannabis.  These  data  show  the  high  level  of  social  acceptance   and  leaves  social  justification  for  prohibition  in  abeyance.     In  Spain  it  is  estimated  that  in  2013  2,093,000  people  consumed  cannabis  at  least  once  a   month  and  some  602,000  did  so  every  day.  These  data  are  far  higher  than  in  1999,  when   the  monthly  figure  was  1,238,000  and  the  daily  figure  220,0007.  The  spread  of  consumption   without   an   increase   in   problematic   use   is   a   clear   sign   of   the   normalisation   of   cannabis   (Martinez  Oró,  2014a:  195-­‐196).  To  clarify,  while  the  number  of  requests  for  treatment  of   cannabis-­‐related  problems  has  increased  in  recent  years,  from  4,772  in  2002  to  12,873  in   2011,  The  proportion  of  daily  users  asking  for  treatment  has  remained  stable:  in  2002  the   percentage   was   2.16%   and   in   2011   it   was   2.3%.8.   Given   this   volume   of   consumers   it   is   logical  that  clubs  flourished  in  Spain  (especially  in  those  areas  where  normalisation  is  more   pronounced,  as  in  the  Basque  Country  and  Catalonia.  The  vast  majority  of  consumers  wish   to  obtain  cannabis  of  high  quality,  safely  (Arana  and  Montañés,  2011:  172-­‐173).  Given  the   dangers  inherent  in  the  black  market,  some,  therefore,  saw  in  a  club  an  excellent  supply   channel   (Barriuso,   2012b:   178-­‐179).   The   spread   of   consumption   led   to   changes   in   the   typical  consumer  profile  and,  consequently,    to  sale  of  cannabis  to  people  outside  marginal   sectors  of  society.     At  present,  the  perceived  availability  of  cannabis  in  Spain  is  almost  universal,  with  two  out   of  every  three  Spaniards  (67%)  considering  it  easy  or  very  easy  to  buy  cannabis  in  less   than  24  hours  (OED,  2014).  The  clubs  allow  members  to  acquire  cannabis  in  a  pleasant   environment,   so   less   consumers   feed   drug   trafficking   networks,   who   are   seeing   their   profits   dwindle   as   a   result   (Decorte,   2015).   Acquiring   substances   in   socially   accepted   contexts,  such  as  clubs,  distances  consumers  from  deviant  practices  and  sub-­‐cultural  norms   (Parker,  Williams  and  Aldridge,  2002:  90  -­‐  92;  Parker,  2005:  206-­‐206).   6  77%  of  Catalans  Believe  It  Is  Better  to  Regulate  than  Veto  Associations.  El  Periódico,  14  July  2014.   7  According  to  the  2013  Report  of  the  Spanish  Drug  Observatory  (OED,  2013),  in  2013  6.6%  of  the  Spanish   population  between  the  ages  of  15  and  64  had  used  cannabis  at  some  time  in  the  month  preceding  the  study   compared  with  4.5%  in  1999.  Daily  consumption  stood  at  1.9%  in  2013  and  0.9%  in  1999.  The  Spanish   population  between  the  ages  of  15  and  64  according  to  the  INE  (National  Statistics  Office)  was  31,718,825   as  of  1  January  2013  and  27,517,892  as  of  1  January  1999.  Drawing  on  these  data  the  figures  have  been   calculated  for  monthly  and  daily  consumption.   8  From  this  percentage  one  should  subtract  the  -­‐  unknown  -­‐  number  of  consumers  who  are  protected  by   paragraph  2  of  Article  25  of  the  Protection  of  Public  Safety  Act  1992  (Ley  1/1992),  which  provides  for  the   suspension  of  pecuniary  sanctions  if  they  undergo  treatment  for  addiction.  But  one  must  also  add  those   consumers  who  request  treatment  in  private  centres  and  do  not  appear  in  the  official  statistics,  as  well  as   those  with  problematic  use  who  refrain  from  seeking  help.  Given  these  elements  we  believe  that  in  no  event   would  the  percentage  of  problematic  use  exceed  5%.  
  7. 7. 7 THE COMMERCIAL REINTERPRETATION OF THE COOPERATIVE MODEL The  experience  of  the  pioneer  clubs  within  the  FAC  environment  gave  wings  to  an  amalgam   of  people,  groups  and  entrepreneurs  to  open  a  club.  In  Barcelona  between  2011  and  2014   there   was   a   veritable   cannabis   boom,   defined   by   a   massive   and   almost   indiscriminate   opening   of   clubs.   During   the   boom,   a   minority   opened   their   doors   with   the   intention   of   following  the  operating  rules  proposed  by  the  FAC.  But  the  vast  majority  reinterpreted  this   model  and  chose  to  work  with  less  strict  parameters,  with  the  resulting  increase  in  the  risk   of  breaking  the  law.  The  legal  grey  area  offered  shadows  in  which  to  hide  criminal  practices   under  the  guise  of  a  not-­‐for-­‐profit  association.  For  the  militants  who  had  opened  up  the   cracks  in  prohibition,  the  emergence  of  clubs  with  "lax"  rules  or  indeed  purely  motivated   by  profiting  from  the  sale  of  cannabis,  pose  a  threat  to  their  co-­‐operative  model  (Barriuso,   2012a).   In   social   and   cultural   terms   one   can   observe   how   the   socio-­‐economic   context   of   the   recession,  which  has  brutally  punished  part  of  Spanish  society,  has  set  the  stage  for  the   cannabis  boom.  The  feeling  of  being  trapped  combined  with  hegemonic  discourse  on  the   subject  (Alonso  and  Fernández  Rodríguez,  2013)  helps  explain  the  boom.  Contributing  to   this   feeling   of   being   trapped   are   the   major   stumbling   blocks   faced   by   young   Spaniards:   unemployment9 ,  over-­‐qualification,  lack  of  work  and  job  insecurity.  These  elements  create   instability  and  uncertainty,  place  them  in  a  vulnerable  position  (Romaní  and  Casadó,  2014)   and   also   affect   their   emotional   state   (Martínez-­‐Hernáez,   2009).   As   far   as   hegemonic   discourse  is  concerned,  one  can  see  that  it  is  neoliberal  and  consumerist  logic  that  defines   social  reality  (Ramonet,  2009).  Another  issue  deserving  special  attention  is  the  discourse   surrounding  entrepreneurship  in  the  context  of  neoliberal  hegemony,  that  espouses  risk-­‐ taking   in   work   and   business,   where   success   is   celebrated   individually   but   failure   also,   without  the  Welfare  State  providing  any  kind  of  safety  net  (Byung-­‐Chul  Han,  2012:  25-­‐32).   In  a  labour  market  that  offers  no  opportunities,  opening  a  cannabis  club  represents  a  way   of  earning  a  living  through  self-­‐employment.  During  the  boom  all  kinds  of  cannabis  clubs   opened.  Some,  despite  opting  out  of  FAC  model,  have  adhered  to  the  jurisprudence,  and   have  operated  as  a  non-­‐profit  association  trying  to  go  unnoticed  since  avoiding  problems  is   crucial   to   maintaining   operations   and   work.   Other,   more   ambitious,   entrepreneurs   have   stretched  the  boundaries  of  jurisprudence,  undertaking  unlawful  practices  under  the  guise   of   a   non-­‐profit   association.   In   a   society   where   one   can   market   any   product,   "cannabis   entrepreneurs"   have   had   no   qualms   about   making   money   from   cannabis   or   supplying   themselves   on   the   black   market,   to   fulfil   the   capitalist   dream   of   being   rich.   Entrepreneurship,   consumerism,   business,   buying   and   selling,   commercial   transfers,   customers,  brand  and  competition,  among  other  staples  of  hegemonic  discourse,  have  also   been   incorporated   into   the   language   of   some   clubs.   Following   the   cannabis   boom,   the   influence  of  business  logic  has  seen  some  clubs  competing  like  companies.  These  maintain   a  strictly  business  relationship  with  cannabis  users   -­‐  in  other  words,  they  become  mere   customers.   This   can   be   seen   in   the   free   services   offered,   such   as   lending   video-­‐game   9  The  unemployment  rate  in  the  last  quarter  of  2014  stood  at  23.7%  for  the  general  population  and  51.8%   for   young   people,   but   the   all-­‐time   high   was   in   the   first   quarter   of   2013,   with   rates   of   26.94%   and   57%   respectively.  
  8. 8. 8 consoles,  offering  DJ  sessions,  organising  football  matches,  etc.,  to  improve  member-­‐client   satisfaction,  in  order  to  build  customer  loyalty.     It  was  not  by  chance  that  the  cannabis  boom  took  place  in  Barcelona  but  an  unintended   consequence  of  the  political-­‐economic  model.  The  Barcelona  Brand  has  for  some  time  been   in   vogue   in   political   and   economic   discourse   as   a   way   of   presenting   the   city   as   cosmopolitan,  business  friendly,  touristic  and  socially  and  culturally  attractive.  Sponsors   stress   its   benefits   but   citizens   are   suffering   the   unintended   consequences   of   this   highly   criticised   model   (Delgado,   2007,   VVAA,   2004).   Barcelona   received   1,732,902   tourists   in   1990  and  that  figure  increased  every  year  following  the  1992  Olympics,  reaching  a  record   high   in   2013   of   7,571,766   tourists   (Tourism   Barcelona,   2014).   This   volume   of   tourism   makes   Barcelona   an   ideal   place   to   do   business,   so   it   is   not   surprising   that   cannabis   entrepreneurs  have  chosen  Barcelona.   Some  "commercial  clubs"  have  not  missed  the  opportunity  to  grow  their  businesses,  with   illegal   practices   like   attracting   tourists   online   or   in   the   street.   When   these   methods   of   capturing   clients   came   to   light   and   people   noticed   how   some   niche   media   were   calling   Barcelona   the   world   marijuana   capital10 ,   Barcelona   City   Council   took   steps   to   stop   "cannabis   tourism",   for   example   a   moratorium   on   new   club   licences   and   an   increase   in   inspections,  which  led  to  the  closing  down  of  59  clubs11 .  Avoiding  cannabis  tourism  appears   to  be  a  high  priority,  from  the  new  regulations  approved  by  both  Barcelona  City  Council   and  by  the  Generalitat  (autonomous  government)  of  Catalonia.     Commercial   clubs   have   created   an   aura   of   "undesirability"   because   they   transgress   jurisprudence.  There  is  no  doubt  that  these  clubs  do  not  conform  to  the  legal  framework,   but  if  we  consider  classical  sociological  theories  of  Deviance  (Becker,  2009;  Matza,  1981),   we  see  how  they  can  also  act  as  normalising  agents  for  consumers  because  they  enable  safe   supply,   avoid   contact   with   deviant   practices   and   withdraw   smokers   from   public   spaces,   with  the  consequent  effect  of  stopping  potential  complaints  and  reporting  to  the  police  by   local   residents.   This   in   turn   implies   less   policing   and   so   a   reduction   in   cost   and   public   disorder.   THE POLITICAL OPPORTUNITIES OF THE CANNABIS MOVEMENT. Taking  Toch's  (1971:  5)  classic  definition,  it  is  clear  that  the  cannabis  movement  is  a  social   one  because  it  is  "an  effort  by  a  large  number  of  people  to  solve  collectively  a  problem  they   feel  they  have  in  common."  As  Marín  (2008)  points  out,  the  cannabis  movement,  in  its  fight   for   the   "normalisation"   of   cannabis,   has   undergone   a   long   journey   over   the   past   two   decades  to  reach  this  point.  According  to  Tarrow  (1994)  and  his  interpretation  of  "political   opportunity  theory",  the  probability  of  a  social  movement  achieving  its  goals  is  determined   by  the  how  the  social  system  opens  up  to  their  demands  and  objectives  (Buechler,  2000).  In   recent  years,  demands  by  the  cannabis  movement  have  been  heard  by  certain  governments   and   opened   up   the   debate   on   a   regulatory   framework   for   clubs   (Renovatio,   2013).   This   10 The  Marijuana  Capital.  El  Periódico,  30  May  2014.     11 Barcelona   City   Council   Closes   59   Cannabis   Associations,   35%   of   the   Total.   La   Vanguardia,   21   November  2014.
  9. 9. 9 political  opening  up  (unprecedented  in  more  than  thirty  years  of  pressure)  is,  first  of  all,   the  result  of  years  of  struggle  by  the  cannabis  movement,  but  such  opening  up  has  been   accelerated  by  the  cannabis  boom  and  the  malpractice  of  commercial  clubs.  The  current   situation  has  forced  the  movement's  anti-­‐prohibition  campaigning  to  be  put  on  hold  while   regulation  of  the  operations  of  clubs  is  pursued.  In  the  near  future,  we  should  find  out  if  the   initial  demands  are  resurrected,  or  if  the  movement  is  evolving  towards  other  goals  than   anti-­‐prohibition  propositions.   The  political  opening  up  has  occurred  in  three  regions:  the  Basque  Country,  Catalonia  and   Navarre.   In   each   case,   the   political   means   used   is   different,   the   common   element   being   wanting  to  regulate  clubs.  In  the  Basque  Country,  through  a  parliamentary  commission  that   lasted   from   April   2012   to   October   2014,   the   Basque   Government   was   urged   to   regulate   clubs  via  the  future  Law  on  Addictions.  In  Navarra,  the  discussion  of  clubs  arose  through  a   people's  legislative  initiative  that  culminated  on  27  November  2014  with  the  approval  of   the   "Regional   Law   24/2014   of   2   December,   regulating   cannabis   user   collectives   in   Navarra."  The  law  is  seen  as  a  triumph  by  the  cannabis  movement,  led  by  the  political  party   "Cannabis  Representation  of  Navarre",  although  in  light  of  the  text,  the  law  does  not  appear   to   resolve   the   "question   of   cannabis",   i.e.,   the   text   omits   any   explicit   reference   to   cultivation,   transport   or   supply.   Despite   the   approval,   the   Spanish   Interior   Ministry   considers  the  law  illegal  and  a  violation  of  state  powers12.  That  is,  once  again,  prohibition  is   on  the  attack  with  alarmist  arguments  such  as  that  clubs  "entail  an  increase  in  problematic   drug   use,   especially   among   teenagers",   and   discredits   those   who   defend   individual   freedoms  and  pursue  fairer  laws.     In   Catalonia,   following   the   media   impact   of   the   Rasquera   plantation13 ,   in   full   cannabis   boom,  the  Generalitat  of  Catalonia  began  legislative  work  through  the  Health  Commission   of   the   Parliament   of   Catalonia   which   ended   in   January   2015   with   the   ratification   of   regulation14  in  the  form  of  a  code  of  practice  to  be  followed  by  clubs  and  councils.  Minimal   regulation   once   again   as   it   does   not   solve   the   "question   of   cannabis",   but   that   was   the   maximum   possible   given   the   powers   available   to   the   Generalitat.   The   Spanish   state   reserved  and  maintains  legislative  competencies  over  controlled  substances  like  cannabis.   Therefore,  despite  this  first  step,  greeted  positively  by  Catalan  cannabis  federations,  the   regulation   does   not   clarify   the   jurisprudential   grey   area   and   clubs   remain   vulnerable.   Furthermore,   the   Catalan   regulation   transfers   the   responsibility   for   regulating   clubs   to   local   councils.   This   may   lead   certain   councils   to   adopt   ordinances   containing   conditions   with  which  it  is  impossible  to  comply,  thus  de  facto  vetoing  their  activity.     12  The  Interior  Ministry  Puts  a  Halt  to  Cannabis  Clubs.  El  Diario,  23  December  2014.     13  Rasquera  village  council  submitted  civic  plans  for  a  cannabis  plantation  in  the  municipality  to  cater  for  a   Barcelona  based  club  with  more  than  10,000  members.  Despite  a  “yes”  vote  in  the  village  plebiscite,  the   public  prosecutor  in  Tarragona  censured  the  action  and  it  was  dismissed  by  the  Provincial  Assembly.   14  RESOLUCION   SLT/32/2015,   15   January,   approving   public   health   standards   to   guide   cannabis   associations  and  their  social  clubs  and  the  conditions  under  which  they  are  permitted  to  operate,  for  the   guidance  of  councils  in  Catalonia.  
  10. 10. 10 At  the  local  level,  Sarrià  de  Ter  was  the  first  council  in  the  country  to  enact  a  bylaw  on   clubs15 ,  published  in  the  Official  Gazette  of  the  Province  of  Girona  on  November  12,  2014.   The  next  day  the  Official  Gazette  of  the  Province  of  Guipúzcoa  published  the  San  Sebastián   Ordinance16 .  Both  emphasise  location,  especially  the  distance  between  clubs  and  various   public  facilities.  In  Catalonia,  council  activity  in  relation  to  clubs  has  been  quiet  but  prolific.   21   councils   have   approved   decrees   suspending   the   granting   of   licences   for   cannabis-­‐ related   activities,   including   Barcelona,   Lleida,   Mataró,   Sabadell,   Gavà   and   Vilafranca   del   Penedès.  Other  councils  have  approved  decrees  relating  to  the  initial  approval  of  bylaws   regulating  cannabis  activity,  including  Girona,  Castelldefels,  Sitges  and  Vilanova  i  la  Geltrú.   Councils   which   have   made   declarations   in   relation   to   clubs   have   chosen   to   publish   a   moratorium:  some  with  the  intention  of  planning  the  definitive  bylaw  and  others  to  limit   the  opening  of  cannabis  clubs.  It  is  clear,  therefore,  how  the  cannabis  boom  has  accelerated   council  activity  to  avoid  conflictive  situations.  This  is  true  of  the  councils  of  La  Jonquera   and  Vilamalla  (municipalities  bordering  with  France)  who  have  suspended  the  granting  of   licences  after  noticing  a  proliferation  of  clubs  with  French  members  who  cross  the  border   to  buy  cannabis  due  to  the  difficulties  of  supplying  themselves  in  their  country  (Massin,   Carrieri  and  Roux,  2013).       SHOULD WE PERSEVERE WITH PROHIBITION? If  one  examines  current  law,  the  Spanish  wall  of  prohibition  began  to  come  up  with  the   ratification  of  the  Single  Convention  on  Narcotic  Drugs  of  1961  in  1966  and  the  passing  of   the  Law  17/1967  which  prohibited  all  use  of  drugs.  The  wall  was  reinforced  by  successive   laws  like  the  Royal  Decree  2829/1977  which  banned  the  use  of  psychotropic  substances   and  articles  (368,  369,  370  and  371)  of  the  Criminal  Code  (Statutory  Law  1/1988).  It  was   completed   by   successive   reforms   and   the   Protection   of   Public   Safety   Act   1992   (Ley   Orgánica  1/1992)  (Muñoz,  2007:  34-­‐36).  As  a  result  of  these  laws,  as  Muñoz  (2007:  36)   notes,  "our  legal  system  forms  a  purely  prohibitionist  model  characterised  by  repressive   strictness  and  legislative  intransigence  against  any  contact  with  drugs".  And  this  is  the  legal   framework  on  which  the  clubs  have  tried  to  develop  their  activity.  Despite  the  progress  of   the  cannabis  movement  and  the  political  opening  up  of  some  administrations,  prohibition   is  still  in  good  health  in  Spain  and  seems  unwilling  to  capitulate  easily  and  will  prevent  any   change  to  the  current  status  quo  (Arana,  2012).  Prohibition  poses  a  threat  to  clubs  that  can   lead  to  cessation  of  activity  and  criminal  prosecutions  (Renovatio,  2014:  18-­‐19).     In  recent  years,  despite  the  efforts  of  many  clubs  to  be  transparent  and  their  willingness  to   adhere  to  the  jurisprudence,  this  has  not  been  enough  to  put  them  out  of  danger  and  stop   them   being   targeted   by   the   police   (Barriuso,   2012b:   169-­‐172).   As   Brión   and   del   Valle   (2015:   23)   point   out,   the   associations   feel   that   "their   insecurities   about   the   lack   of   regulation  is  like  the  sword  of  Damocles  that  threatens  their  ventures.  "  The  legal  grey  area   allows  security  forces  to  act  if  they  observe,  in  their  judgment,  evidence  of  a  crime.  These   15  “Edict  of  final  approval  of  the  Bylaw  regulating  the  activity  of  Cannabis  Clubs"   16 "Bylaw  regulating  the  location  of  cannabis  social  clubs".
  11. 11. 11 operations  occur  both  at  the  headquarters  of  the  association  and  at  the  plantations,  where   cannabis   is   seized   and   managers   detained,   accused   of   various   crimes,   especially   against   public   health.   Transportation   of   cannabis   is   also   a   dangerous   activity   because   at   any   roadblock  members  can  be  subject  to  inspection  and  arrest  (Barriuso,  2012b:  175).  Despite   the  fact  that  clubs  show  documentation  certifying  that  the  cannabis  is  shared  and  complies   with   prevailing   jurisprudence,   in   reality   this   does   not,   in   most   cases,   prevent   the   club   members   being   arrested   and   later   released   on   bail   pending   trial.   Typically   trials   end   in   acquittal  but  are  a  cause  of  hardship  as  preparing  for  a  trial  involves  looking  for  a  lawyer   and  appearing  before  a  judge  to  give  evidence,  a  situation  that  generates  anxiety,  malaise   and  uncertainty.   The   current   framework   of   prohibition   also   leaves   cannabis   clubs   vulnerable   to   outside   interference,  such  as  theft  from  the  association's  plantations  (Brión  and  del  Valle,  2015:   28).  The  grey  area  makes  it  impossible  for  them  even  to  think  about  reporting  the  theft  to   the  police  to  prevent  further  interference.  Clubs  can  also  receive  threats  or  pressure  from   criminal  groups  who  take  advantage  of  the  grey  area.     Regarding  the  prohibitionist  pressure  on  consumers,  despite  the  change  in  culture,  security   forces   have   remained   relentless   (Arana   and   Germán,   2004).   The   number   of   cases   of   reported   drug   use   or   possession   under   Article   25   of   the   Public   Safety   Act   1992,   has   increased   steadily   since   the   law   came   into   force.   The   earliest   statistic   provided   by   the   Interior  Ministry  on  drug-­‐related  police  reports  is  for  1998,  when  81,64417  were  detained   or  fined  for  drugs.  In  2006  the  number  of  administrative  sanctions  increased  to  218,656,   77.32%  of  which  were  for  cannabis,  and  in  2013  they  reached  a  record  high  of  401,289   police  reports,  of  which  87%  were  cannabis  related  (Ministry  of  Interior,  2014:  322).     The  new  Public  Safety  Act18  also  puts  pressure  on  cannabis  consumers  and,  implicitly,  on   clubs.  In  relation  to  possession  and  consumption  in  public,  consumers  are  now  liable  to   more   hefty   fines,   ranging   from   €601   to   €30,000   -­‐   in   other   words   double   the   previous   minimum  fine  of  €301.  Furthermore,  the  new  act  includes  a  point  absent  in  the  previous   one  in  regard  to  plantations.  Paragraph  20  of  article  36  refers  to  "illicit  acts  of  planting  and   cultivation  of  toxic  drugs,  narcotics  or  psychotropic  substances  in  publicly  visible  places,   even  if  it  does  not  constitute  a  criminal  offence  to  do  so".  This  leaves  the  security  forces   free  to  sanction  any  plantation  destined  for  personal  use.  It  remains  to  be  seen  what  the   expression   "publicly   visible"   implies,   but   in   the   worse   case   scenario,   any   visible   plant   would  incur  a  minimum  fine  of  €601.  This  situation  is  a  clear  persecution  of  consumers  as   it  prevents  self-­‐supply  and  puts  them  in  a  vulnerable  position.  To  avoid  problems,  they  are   more  likely  to  purchase  on  the  black  market.   Until   now,   seizure   of   marijuana   plants   has   been   adjudicated   in   court,   with   the   judge   deciding  whether  it  was  destined  for  trafficking,  with  the  resulting  fine  or  prison  sentence,   or  whether  it  was  destined  for  personal  use  or  shared  consumption,  in  the  case  of  clubs,   which  normally  results  in  acquittal.  With  the  previous  Public  Safety  Act,  if  the  police  saw   17  This  statistic  does  not  differentiate  between  drugs  or  between  arrests  or  fines,  so  the  actual  figure  for   cannabis-­‐related  police  reports  is  much  lower. 18  Approved  by  the  Congress  of  Deputies  in  December  2014,  it  entered  into  force  on  1  July  2015.  
  12. 12. 12 one  or  two  plants,  they  would  have  been  unlikely  to  act  because  they  knew  that  the  judge   would  apply  the  Supreme  Court's  jurisprudence  which  allowed  cultivation  for  personal  use   and  acquit  the  accused.     Prohibition  is  not  sustained  exclusively  by  the  law.  Public  anti-­‐drug  opinion  also  plays  a   major   part.   Public   opinion   against   drugs   is   based   on   discourses   by   'experts',   especially   doctors,   extolling   the   dangers   of   controlled   substances.   It   is   also   influenced   by   socio-­‐ historical  elements  recorded  in  the  collective  memory.  Hence,  despite  normalisation,  the   image   of   compulsive   consumption   of   heroin   still   survives   among   the   population.   And   in   these   "anti-­‐drugs"   discourses   in   general,   the   media   have   played   a   key   role   (Gayo,   2013:   146-­‐148).     One   of   the   most   immediate   consequences   of   the   cannabis   boom   was   the   painting   of   a   negative   picture   of   clubs,   caused   by   media   reports   of   bad   practices   such   as   attracting   tourists  via  the  Internet19and  selling  to  minors20.  Such  reporting  also  induced  fear  among   citizens  by  claiming  that  Barcelona  had  become  the  new  Amsterdam21  and  so  was  attracting   cannabis  tourism22.  In  this  respect,  news  reports  are  one-­‐sided.  They  do  not  mention  the   complaints   of   the   movement,   which   was   trying   to   guarantee   the   survival   of   the   closed   supply   circuit   -­‐   which   had   already,   in   part,   been   recognised   by   the   jurisprudence.   The   media  have  repeatedly  used  their  sources  to  run  stories  on  the  arrests  of  club  bosses  and   the   charges   brought   against   them   of   crimes   against   public   health   and   even   criminal   conspiracy23 ,   theft   of   electrical   supply24  and   money   laundering25 .   They   have   also   used   alarmist   and   tendentious   discourse,   as   in   the   case   of   the   reports   on   the   arrest   of   "the   ringleaders"   of   cannabis   associations26  that   used   exactly   the   same   discourse   as   that   of   reports  on  the  arrests  of  members  of  ETA.     The   amalgam   of   news   of   this   kind   leads,   among   a   large   swathe   of   the   population,   to   an   image   being   portrayed   of   clubs   as   criminal   and   delinquent   organisations.   They   are   considered  responsible  for  facilitating  consumption,  of  trivialising  the  risks  of  cannabis  and   of  normalising  inherently  dangerous  practices.  That  is,  prohibitionist  arguments  are  used   to   justify   the   persecution   and   closure   of   clubs   in   the   name   of   public   health   and   social   cohesion,  because  contrary  to  pro-­‐cannabis  arguments,  they  claim  that  clubs  enhance  drug   19  "Cannabis  Clubs"  Advertise  on  the  Internet  to  Sell  the  Drug.  El  País,  22  May  2014.   20  Leaders  of  a  Cannabis  Club  in  Barcelona  Arrested  for  Selling  to  Minors.  La  Vanguardia,  5  May  2014.   21  Sunny  Amsterdam.  El  País,  7  December  2013.   22  The  Cannabis  Club  Boom  Attracts  Reefer  Tourism  to  Barcelona.  La  Vanguardia,  20  January  2014.   23 Owners of Four Cannabis Associations Arrested for Supplying Drugs to 200 People. ABC, 26 July 2014. 24 Police Detain Two Bosses from a Cannabis Association in Maresme County. La Vanguardia, 1 December 2014. 25 Bosses of the Biggest Marijuana Club Arrested for Money Laundering. El Periódico, 12 July 2014. 26  Ringleaders  of  the  Cannabis  Associations  Arrested  for  Money  Laundering.  El  País,  11  July  2014.
  13. 13. 13 trafficking  and  offer  no  improvement  to  "the  Drugs  Problem"  and  do  not  benefit  society  in   any  way.     CONCLUSION In  Spain  the  cannabis  movement  has  been  fighting  for  fairer  drugs  policies  for  more  than   thirty  years.  This  fight  led  to  cracks  in  the  wall  of  prohibition  which  enabled  the  creation  of   cannabis  clubs.  The  combination  of  a  lack  of  clear  regulation  and  normalisation  of  cannabis,   along  with  certain  hegemonic  discourses  (consumerism  and  entrepreneurship)  has  led  to  a   boom  in  cannabis  clubs.  Recognition  of  the  reality  of  consumption,  a  result  of  the  process  of   normalisation,  made  it  possible  for  clubs  to  operate.  Normalisation  led  to  a  proliferation  in   the   profiles   of   consumers,   regardless   of   age,   sex   or   socioeconomic   status.   Acquiring   cannabis  from  clubs  has  enabled  these  consumers  to  distance  themselves  from  the  black   market  and  purchase  from  a  safe  and  quality-­‐assured  supplier.   The   cannabis   boom   began   in   Barcelona   in   2011.   The   majority   of   the   new   clubs   disassociated  themselves  from  the  co-­‐operative  FAC  model  and  began  to  operate  without   adhering  to  the  jurisprudence.  During  the  recession,  some  young  people  saw  clubs  as  an   opportunity  to  make  a  living.  Others,  influenced  by  contemporary  neoliberal  thinking,  saw   them   an   investment   opportunity.   Commercial   clubs   are   a   product   of   consumerist   and   capitalist   thinking   which   has   found   a   good   business   niche   in   the   newly   transformed   cannabis  capital,  Barcelona.  This  type  of  club  is  a  threat  to  co-­‐operative  clubs  because  they   undermine  decades  of  work,  but  bad  practices  have  also  created  a  political  opportunity  to   demand  clear  regulations.   Given  this  situation,  the  cannabis  movement  has  pressured  the  authorities  to  accelerate  the   regulation   of   clubs,   establishing   itself   as   a   valid   interlocutor   in   the   political   debate.   The   presence   of   the   "issue   of   clubs"   on   the   political   agenda   has   produced   results   in   three   regional   parliaments:   the   Basque   Country,   the   Autonomous   Community   of   Navarre   and   Catalonia   and   in   some   municipalities   in   these   territories.   However,   the   regulations   obtained  so  far  are  insufficient  as  they  fail  to  resolve  the  issues  of  cultivation,  transport  and   access  to  cannabis,  and  could  be  considered  a  "patch"  for  the  prohibition  model.  At  some   point  we  should  evaluate  the  results  of  their  implementation  and  whether  they  have  led  to   an  improvement  for  clubs  and  have  fulfilled  the  objective  of  eliminating  bad  practice,  or  on   the   contrary,   they   have   caused   the   bureaucratisation   of   activity   and   control   by   the   authorities   which   also   fails   to   prevent   bad   practice.   These   first   regional   regulations   are   seen  as  an  extremely  symbolic  first  step  towards  continued  discussion  about  drugs  policies.   An  obstacle  to  the  opening  up  of  some  local  administrations  is  the  belligerence  towards  and   rejection  of  regional  and  local  regulations27  by  Central  Government,  which  seems  unwilling   to  make  any  changes  to  the  wall  of  prohibition28.  Spanish  prohibition  has  been  and  is  an   element   of   harassment   which   prevents   the   smooth   operation   of   clubs.   Fines,   seizures,   arrests  and  prosecutions  have  formed  part  of  clubs'  existence  in  recent  years.  Prohibition   27  State  Counsel  Studies  Impugning  Cannabis  Clubs.  El  Diario,  11  December  2014. 28  Legalising  Marijuana  "is  not  a  path  that  Spain  is  willing  to  follow."  El  Diario,  11  February  2015.  
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