Tapas, warm weather and friendly atmosphere. What comes to mind? Spain!
Hi, my name is Alex Raffay, I’m in the Sales and Marketing department at Grass Roots America Magazine (GRAM). I had the privilege of bringing along GRAM to one of my favorite places, Madrid, last month. I spent over two years living in Madrid when I was in high school learning the language and culture of this beautiful country. Although I learned a lot about the people and language, I did not have much knowledge, on how cannabis influences the culture. I brought GRAM to the places I love to visit in and around Madrid, Spain.
Our first stop was to breath the fresh mountain air next to the castle ‘Los Mendoza’ in Manzanares el Real. Next stop for us was to visit a famous churro shop called San Ginés. Our stomachs filled with churros, we went to the center of the city and said hello to the bear statue ‘La Osa y el Madroño.’
We found this cannabis store adjacent to the plaza ‘Puerta Del Sol.’ When we entered, we were greeted by Adrian and Lucas. These gentlemen understand the public opinion of the industry and what the social life is like. They allowed me to ask a few questions about the cannabis industry in Madrid. I found an open and friendly environment that immersed me into a foreign cannabis culture.
Tell us a little about yourself…
Adrian: I am 25 years old and I am from Madrid. I currently work at this cannabis shop, and I like to socialize after work.
Lucas: I am 26 years old and was born in Madrid. I work along with Adrian in the cannabis shop. During my off time, I enjoy being part of a rock band.
Tell us about how you got into cannabis…
Adrian: When I was in high school, my friends introduced me to cannabis.
Lucas: I was introduced when I was with foreign exchange students from high school.
What makes you passionate about cannabis?
Adrian: I derive my passion from being able to share memorable moments with friends. I love to learn more about the properties and effects of cannabis.
Lucas: I enjoy cannabis because it is not dangerous or life-damaging. I also enjoy networking with other enthusiasts and learning about their path into the cannabis world. Smoking cannabis is relaxing, comfortable, and an easy habit to control.
What are your future ambitions?
Adrian & Lucas: We both have plans to continue in this industry. We are interested in becoming cannabis entrepreneurs. Part of our plans is to create a cannabis club in Madrid.
Do you think cannabis should go recreational in Spain?
Adrian: I think that cannabis should go completely legal for a couple of reasons. These reasons are similar to the opinions in the U.S. Along with the improved quality of cannabis, the control over it could come to benefit the country, overall.
Lucas: I think it should be regulated, in the same way that alcohol is. I think being illegal causes the same effect that Prohibition had in USA with alcohol: mafias controlling the market, people looking for hard drinks like whiskey because beer wasn’t worth going to jail for. It also makes it easier to get for underaged people, and more dangerous because people don’t really know anything about it, just that it’s either fun or dangerous, depending on who talked to them about it.
Do you think marijuana will become recreational in Spain? Why?
Adrian: I do not think cannabis will be legalized. The reasoning for this is Spain’s past. Not too long ago, in the 70’s, Spain had a dictator by the name of Francisco Franco. Franco ruled after the Spanish civil war, from 1939 until his death in 1975.
Adrian stated, “due to Franco’s ruling, Spain has carried a conservative mindset.”
Lucas: Possibly. I personally think so, and I hope so, but I think it’s going to take a long time. If you think about it, there’s no country in Europe where it is legal, just in the city of Amsterdam (not even in Holland). I think cannabis clubs will evolve and become more legal/legitimate, but they will not be as widely accepted as in the states for a long time.
Explain what it is like being in a cannabis club. What are some of the rules? What are the people in the clubs like?
Adrian: My first experience with the cannabis clubs in Madrid was only days before we met. The people I met the first night did not come off as friendly. The cannabis clubs used to allow people only if they had a connection; now you can join without knowing people in the club. My club is well organized with a 500-gram allotment after fees have been paid. While the clubs in Madrid are strict and few in count, Barcelona is very relaxed with their clubs, and they are more abundant.
Lucas: It is the closest thing to buying legal cannabis in Spain. You pay for a membership (10€ – 30€) and you can get it there. There are many strains (depends on the club size), and you can enjoy it there or grab it to smoke at home. It’s quite fine, but it has a lot of cons. First, it’s expensive. You pay around 3€ per gram more than if you were to get it on the streets. Second, quality is not always good and most of the people working there are not experts, so they’re not qualified to explain the different strains. Third, the most important: they are not completely legal. You know you can be stopped by the police, and they can take off your weed and make you pay for it (some clubs pay for you in that situation, but not all of them) before you reach your home. The police can close your club from one day to the next, which means you cannot buy there anymore, and the police will have your name on file. Cannabis clubs are the best and most legal method of buying cannabis in Spain, but they’re far from being real dispensaries.