Setting Up Cannabis Social Clubs – Advice from Catalonia

Ever wondered how cannabis social clubs work?  The people from Catalonia have first hand experience of how! They organised themselves and pushed to make the region legally and socially tolerant of cannabis consumption. They successfully set up cannabis clubs and voluntarily started self-regulating after they realized the government wouldn’t do it for them. Below is some information on the inner workings of the cannabis club network in Spain, with lots of advice and food for thought from the activists

Some history:

  • In 2001 Catalan Cannabis Association were first to obtain a licence to grow cannabis for its members on the basis that some people cant grow plants because of medical reasons or living situation. The argument being that not all consumers have facilities or the capabilities to do so
  • Basque people got people together to teach themselves how to be self sufficient with cannabis cultivation
  • Rasquera – Villagers had a referendum and agreed to grow cannabis for themselves. This caused lots of new clubs to spring up even though the Rasquera model failed
  • Pulled resources in to grow crops as for members only (social model)
  • Selling to private – non members came later (commercial model)
  • Woman participation was extremely Important
  • Harnessed the energy of cannabis users and others with a magazine that featured their own information (latest research, studies, movements, gatherings, interviews, viewpoints, advertising and more) – Novelty free “souvenir cannabis seed” was selling point and changed a lot of perceptions
  • Got other businesses involved – Had Expos – Invited industry traders

Suggestions for speaking to Media/Public:

  • Deter media from raising social alarm when it isn’t needed
  • Stick to your point and control the conversation with clear facts with quotes/references
  • Avoid differentiating between medicinal user and recreational users as much as possible because it helps people understand that it’s a human rights issue
  • Talk less about cannabis or the cannabis plant and more about cannabinoids and the terpenes produced in trichomes. The pant is just the skeleton that produces the cannabinoids
  • Always try to quote your source ie; according to Dr. Gupta, Professor Nutt, Harvard study etc…
  • Promote cannabis growing equipment, paraphernalia, seeds etc for personal only

Legal adviser’s suggestions & thoughts:

  • Restricting Access is a key thing to get across to people, currently the law doesn’t do this as only I.D needed for teen to buy drugs is cash
  • Suicide isn’t a criminal offence because charging someone with homicide (or attempted ?) on themselves would be absurd. So protecting the public from themselves can’t be implemented or ever work
  • When someone has a bulk amount of drugs they usually distribute them between friends. Proven not guilty if the amount of drugs conflicts with the persons lifestyle (ie; they can’t afford all the drugs in their possession) and friends come forward to declare that they pooled their money, which costs the state/tax payer more money to charge each person with each individual offence. Pointless and has negative affect
  • When Spain decriminalised cannabis one of the aims was to have no needles or even roaches in the streets, forcing people to be more responsible in their own communities if and when using drugs. This has worked well.
  • The people who supported the no tolerance ‘war on drugs’ feared an immediate rise of people using drugs if they decriminalised drug use but this did not happen either
  • Doctors certificates for patients makes it easier to facilitate activities
  • Keep records – document stating where cannabis going , with names, amounts – protects club and memebrs
  • Police have accepted these clubs as legal
  • Self regulation served a purpose as a guarantee for politicians
  • Compassionate Cannabis Growing – compassionate giving isn’t a criminal offence
  • Offer the first club set up as a study group to local authorities if still facing fierce opposition
  • Working alongside city hall to avoid conflict *Was Important Part Of The Change*
  • Documents stating where cannabis going , with names, amounts
  • Daily routine helps normalize
  • More accepted (In a legal sense) if the club is not easily recognizable in the area. Has heavily secured door and cameras
  • Clubs can set own policies. Ie; constitution says 18 years old is legal but some clubs have set their minimum age to 21 years old
  • Clubs are Tax exempt because they’re Non-Profit entities
  • Accountancy, All expenses transparent
  • Employee wages taxed
  • Cannabis not taxed No VAT – Non Profit

Club Regulation:

  • Club starts with 3 people
  • Clubs can be as simple as a cannabis exchange. Members swapping strains
  • Members only grow for members – Social model
  • Advertising people’s own use is fine but not for business purposes
  • Clubs for residents only                                               – SOCIAL MODEL  
  • Tourists can use but advised to act responsibly      – COMMERCIAL MODEL
  • Establish Distances between clubs – zones
  • Delivery available to those in need – i.e; immobile/ ill
  • Getting a tax number makes it a legally recognised entity
  • Club Cards explain what you are doing to local people as well as function as club I.D
  • No growing goes on at the premises (cannabis club)
  • Members delegates grow
  • Growing only to consume
  • Moral responsibility to have all information available to members/consumers
  • No transport advice is given. Vulnerable to arrest in transporting of cannabis – grey area needs amended 
  • Integral regulation
  • Software used for running clubs are all different – No standard

Club sizes:     

  • Small  :             0 – 200  people
  • Medium :     300 – 600  people
  • Large  :         700 – 1000 + people

3 main separate areas in club:

  • Check-in room         –  Registration & check in
  • Distribution room   –  To obtain the cannabis
  • Social room              –  To consume the cannabis

No smoking in Check in room or Distribution due to workers rights*

CATFAC:

CatFAC – Federation of Associations of Catalonia Cannabis was set up in 2012 by 8 cannabis clubs to help regulate and standardize the cannabis clubs to give the cannabis community better legal standing and to help facilitate a better alternative to the black market. Fighting for the rights of consumers and workers, CatFAC focuses on the legality of cannabis and practices associated

Anti-prohibitionists focused on pressuring/lobbying politicians (especially before election time), changing the social mindset and changing health policies so CatFAC helped in the organization of a people’s pushback

“The Federation of Associations of Catalonia Cannabis (CatFAC) is a grouping of associations formed by consumers of cannabis which collectively build a proposal for self-regulation in which partners are supplied in closed circles and profit . We all are previous users of cannabis, legal age or illness for which cannabis is considered a palliative of choice.

We develop our activities with homogeneous groups that make up the Federation Cannàbiques (FAC) statewide.

Through CatFAC, our platform action participate from all fronts to change current drug policies including the prohibition on public policies designed, owned and participatory with all stakeholders, to ensure the freedom of people choose their consumption with less risk and more, as well as health and coexistence in society in general.

Cannabis is our scope here but collaborate with other groups that seek to advance civil rights and welfare of citizens.” – CatFAC Website

3 tier system :

  • General assembly           – Meetings once a month for decision making
  • Technical Committee     – Meetings weekly to oversee general running of club
  • Representation               – Communication with public & media

Representation is in two separate parts that focus on different areas

Institutional

  • Government
  • Parliamentary Group of the Parliament of Catalonia
  • Political parties
  • Councils

– Social Movement

  • Online engagement
  • Other cannabis federations
  • Movement cannabis Catalan
  • Responsible regulation
  • Guild Grows

CatFAC Organization Breakdown

  • Activism/ Activists    – For the organization of activists, events & demonstrations
  • Therapeutic              – At least one voluntary doctor *Very Important* for medical advice 
  • Audits                         – At least 1 per year – a normal procedure in any establishment
  • Cultivation                 – Monitors & analyses production & quality
  • Territory                    – Free advice service for potential clubs setting up (more clubs – more normal)
  • Women                      – Insuring equality of sexes in the industry
  • Lobbying                   – To work with but also pressure government, political parties & councils  
  • Networking               – Connecting with other social movements, building relationships with like minded groups

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