Editor’s note: Just like Barcelona’s cannabis clubs, this author would like to remain discreet.

Barcelona is a bustling tourist city. The main drag, Las Ramblas, is lively day and night as restaurants, shops, and people crowd the glowing streets. Around every corner is someone with goods to sell—clothing, keychains, ice cream, or an experience.

Flyers for the many clubs that make up Barcelona’s vibrant nightlife are handed out left and right; but, there exists another kind of club in Barcelona, one that many people aren’t aware of: cannabis clubs.

Find Cannabis Wherever You Go
Visit the Closest Dispensary

Most travelers think of Amsterdam when they think of European cannabis tourism. But the truth is that although Spain has quietly embraced cannabis culture with dedicated pot clubs and museums, it has approached the matter much differently than its Dutch counterpart.

Establishing Cannabis Tourism by the Mediterranean

For starters, Spain’s cannabis clubs are not truly intended for tourists at all, but for Spanish residents.

Tourists can still partake in Spanish cannabis fare with some ease—if they know what to expect. First, cannabis clubs are exclusive to members. These are not establishments where you can waltz in at any time. Well-established clubs require referrals or for aspiring members to submit requests on their websites.

Most clubs forbid members from using the words “buy,” “sell,” or “purchase” in connection with cannabis.

Once approved, tourists need to provide a Spanish address, but this can simply be the address of a hotel or other temporary accommodation. You may be expected to provide some further information such as full name and ID number, then payment of membership fee. This is a yearly fee, paid once, for year-round access to the club. It does not cover the cost of acquiring goods once inside the club.

It’s important to note the use of the word “acquiring” here, as most clubs forbid members from using the words “buy,” “sell,” or “purchase” in connection with cannabis.

If this all seems rather exclusive, you’d be right to think so. However, Spain is not without its more tourist-driven clubs. These are smaller cannabis clubs that toe the line between established hotspot and under-the-radar weed den. These spaces are usually discovered after a promotor—like the many other vendors on Las Ramblas—invite tourists to join them. They are shrouded in suspicion. Some are said to be illegitimate, to have bunk weed, or both.

How true are the rumors? In a bustling city where cannabis clubs are legal, what would a Las Ramblas cannabis club invite look like?

I decided to find out.

Navigating Cannabis in the City of Gaudí

On my first day in Barcelona, strolling down Las Ramblas, I heard a muted voice say, “Coffeeshop? Cannabis coffeeshop?”

I stopped, curious, and circled back with a friend. The man offered to lead us to the shop. We cautiously began to follow him, up until he turned down an alley that was decidedly less populated—we were not about to allow curiosity surpass safety and common sense. He protested as we turned back to the commotion of Las Ramblas.

As we were about to chalk up the experience to a lost cause, another man who had been standing nearby approached.

“You wanted to go to a coffeeshop? Come with me.” He gestured in a different direction. We agree with the caveat that we won’t follow him down any unpopulated streets.

“You wanted to go to a coffeeshop? Come with me.”

He took us down several different roads, all of which were as active and crowded as Las Ramblas. At last, he stopped at a store front with windows covered in black tint. My friend and I glanced at one another, and then I decided to investigate while she waited outside.

I stepped into a small reception room. There was man behind a desk with a computer and a door to his left. The promotor who brought us there opened the door and allowed me to look inside. To my relief, I find a lounge with two rooms and a bar. There are couches everywhere, and people of various ages, genders and nationalities lounging about, smoking cannabis.

RELATED STORY
Will Barcelona Be the New Amsterdam? What Tourists Should Know About Cannabis in Spain

The smell hit me immediately as curious eyes turned my way. I fetched my friend.

As expected, they required our full name, ID number, and a signature. Curiously (and suspiciously) they did not ask for an address. Finally, after a 20-euro membership fee, which grants us access to the club for a year, we are permitted inside.

Partaking in an Entirely New Travel Experience

There was no music in the club. It was well lit, and the furniture does not match. Straight ahead at the very back of the space was the bar, mostly unoccupied and selling only beer. To my right, in a small alcove, was a small glass display case with a budtender standing behind it.

The tables around the room held piles of rolling papers and grinders.

In front of me were large plastic jars filled with various strains: OG Kush, Kandy Kush, Amnesia, and Skunk to name a few. There was wax in small glass jars with homogenous labels on them, and homemade pot brownies on a cake stand under a glass cover.

Find OG Kush, Kandy Kush, Amnesia, and Skunk Nearby

The strains seemed high-quality in scent and appearance, I chose Skunk and had the budtender weigh 5-euros worth. To my surprise, I received about a gram of cannabis—much more than I would be able to use in the club. Around the walls, signs reminded patrons that the cannabis is not supposed to leave the premises, but I suspect that many find ways to take it with them at their own risk.

The tables around the room held piles of rolling papers and grinders. I borrowed a lighter from a man beside me, who was an Italian tourist.

I spent about an hour there that night, smoking my elevating joint, chatting with others in the club, and relaxing on the sofa. When finished, I gifted the remainder of my 5-euro gram to the promoter who brought us to the club.

Back on the colorful Barcelona streets, I was giggly and giddy as I breathed in the sights, the smells, and the sun. Was it pure luck that showed me such a pleasant experience at an almost random Las Ramblas club? Without knowing where that first alley led, it’s hard to say.

Regardless, there is no need for other tourists to follow this demonstration of curiosity—especially when there are plenty of large cannabis clubs to attend as part of your vacation.

If you’d like to experience Spain’s cannabis clubs, do your research, apply for membership ahead of time, and remember to be respectful and discreet.

Lead image: (benedek/iStock)

Flood image: (dem10/iStock)