Is Cannabis Legal in Spain?

Despite Spain's lax attitude towards the use of marijuana, caution is advised

Marijuana Marijuana buds and a pipe with
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Disclaimer: The writer of this article accepts no responsibility for the accuracy of this page, particularly with the possible future implementation of the 'Citizen Security Law' (Ley de la Seguridad Ciuidadana). My advice to visitors to any country is to be extra careful with drug use and possession. There are plenty of excellent Drinks in Spain, so why not refrain from other drug use during your time in Spain?

Hugo Lin / © TripSavvy

Some background

If you're wondering whether cannabis is legal in Spain, the answer is both yes and no. The truth is that the legal situation of cannabis in Spain is a little more complicated than in other countries.

Throw in the fact that changes to the current law are constantly in motion, and things get even more muddled. In October 2018, the far-left political party Podemos introduced measures that would completely legalize cannabis throughout Spain.

But even if Podemos's plan succeeds, changes won't be implemented for a long time. For now, let's focus on the current legality of cannabis in Spain. 

Current legal situation of cannabis in Spain

First of all, it is illegal in Spain to traffic cannabis. Selling the drug can lead to one to three years of jail time as well as a fine, with steeper penalties for those selling higher amounts of the drug, as well as for past offenders.

That being said, it is legal in Spain to cultivate or smoke cannabis for your own personal use. As long as you consume the drug in the privacy of your own home, or elsewhere on private property, you're not doing anything illegal. It's also legal to buy and sell paraphernalia such as seeds and other hemp products. However, if you are growing cannabis on private property, it cannot be in public view.

You'll also find people smoking at cannabis clubs, which have sprung up throughout the country as a result of the 2015 law decriminalizing marijuana in private spaces. Today, there are an estimated 700 cannabis clubs throughout Spain, and they come in all different forms.

Some cannabis clubs are primarily recreational, while others provide support for those using the drug for medical reasons and even have doctors available onsite. All charge a fee for membership, but there's a further catch—members of these clubs must be 21 or older, and only Spanish citizens are allowed. So unless you've got that burgundy-and-gold Reino de España passport, you'll have to steer clear. 

Let's do a 180, though. It is illegal in Spain to smoke cannabis in public places. That means out in the street, in a park, on public transportation, or even in your own car if it's parked on public property. If you get caught, the fine will set you back 300 euros.

Important reminders

So there you have it: the complicated legal situation of cannabis in Spain. However, it's important to keep in mind that—as anywhere in the world—the interpretation of "personal use" here in Spain is open to debate. If a policeman takes a disliking to a group of noisy foreigners, they might use any drugs found on your person as an excuse to cause you problems.

With that in mind, your safest bet would be to avoid consuming cannabis in Spain. If you do wish to take part, however, exercise extreme caution and take care not to disturb the local community lest you be stopped and searched by law enforcement. 

Having said that, cannabis is often sold openly in the streets, especially in cities such as Barcelona and Granada. You may even see people smoking cannabis outside bars without anyone raising an eyebrow. However, keep in mind that this is technically illegal, so it may not be the best idea to join in. It's best to stay on the safe side. After all, nobody wants to get into legal trouble in a foreign country.

Finally, be sure to remember that Spain's cannabis laws are more relaxed than those of France and Gibraltar, so do not try to carry the drug across the border. In Portugal, the use of cannabis (and all drugs) is decriminalized, but not legal.

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