The global cannabis industry is predicted to grow to about $50 billion by 2026. Safe to say that along with this growth has been an almost complete turnaround for cannabis culture, which is no longer for those only on the fringes of society, but is instead well and truly mainstream.
What was once a strictly controlled substance, is now rolled up and blazed in Spanish cultural associations, cannabis clubs, and coffee shops (in the Catalonia region alone, clubs reportedly make about $4 million in sales each month). And in the lab, the country leads the world with research into the medicinal promise and potential of cannabis.
Spain is very much a focal point for cannabis culture and cannabis entrepreneurship. Irishman Danny Mowlds knew that when he set up the first of two cannabis clubs in the country. His venture, The Cali Cave, now has two locations in the country – one in Orihuela and the other in Benidorm and they’ve gone from strength to strength. And with a recording studio in the works and a thriving merchandise business, things look positive for both Danny and the cannabis industry as a whole.
Here’s a brief round-up of how we got here and what might be next for weed seekers who take a trip to Spain.
A Quick Legal Recap
Cannabis was decriminalized in Spain back in 2015. But this isn’t the same as having free reign to grow, transport, and smoke it. And there are some important things you must understand before we dive any deeper…
- You can only grow two plants per household, but they must not be on public display (such as being grown on a balcony)
- Smoking cannabis is a private and personal matter for you in your own home
- The purchase, possession, and consumption of cannabis in a public place constitutes a misdemeanor punishable by a fine and confiscation of the product
- You CANNOT traffick or sell cannabis
With the legal stuff out the way, let’s take a peek into a Spanish cannabis club.
Cannabis with your Cappuccino?
Coffee shops, clubs, and associations fall outside of Spain’s cannabis laws as they operate under the format of private associations that require each visitor to be a member. And it’s fair to say that business is booming – with 300 clubs up, running and blazing in Barcelona alone, while in Spain as a whole they’ve risen in number from 40 in 2010 to more than 700 (and counting) today.
Take a tour of these clubs and you’d quickly see that there’s a huge variety in atmosphere, decor, and quality. Like all businesses, there’s the good, the bad, and the indifferent. Some are dark and dingy, with street vendors illegally touting for business on the street and products of questionable quality. Others are seriously slick – complete with exceptional sound systems, extravagant interior design, and experience more on par with celeb-attracting hip hop night spots. Case and point made by the Cali Cave…
The Cali Cave – A Club Chain Blazing a Trail in the Euro Cannabis Scene
40+ exotic cannabis strains. A clothing line. A record label. Top rappers including Icy Narco, Meekz Manny, Charlie Sloth, INK, and more.
All of the above is what the Cali Cave offers up – a cannabis club where you’ll find Europe’s most exotic strains (ranging from Blueberry Cruffin to RS11) – sourced from as far afield as California, as well as from top Spanish and UK growers.
The first Cali Cave, based in Alicante, opened its doors just 12 months ago, with the second launching in Benidorm – the center of Spanish cannabis culture – eight months later.
Today, the Cali Cave counts a growing list of celebrities among its clientele, as well as a thriving social following on Insta and FB.
Still a Way to Go…
Despite the many positives surrounding cannabis is sunny Spain right now, cannabis remains illegal in most instances. True, decriminalization of marijuana for personal use has happened, but it is only through legal loopholes that allow for certain examples of purchasing and smoking marijuana that has given rise to the canna clubs, coffee shops, and associations.
“Spain could make $3.3 billion in taxes and social security payments from the cannabis industry – more than the health budget of the Castilla-La Mancha region,” — David Pere Martínez Oró, Drugs Policy Unit at the Autonomous University of Barcelona