Now that the issue of legalizing marijuana has become a central issue in recent years, many are wondering what is the best way to legalize the plant for recreational use. In Washington and Colorado, it is legal for people to smoke in their private residences. But many smokers, especially those of lower economic status and therefore more likely to be unfairly targeted by drug laws, live in smaller and more compacted housing sections that may make them reluctant to smoke at home.
Well, one way that all American states could institute marijuana legalization is to adopt Spain’s system. In Spain, they have places called “Cannabis Clubs,” where it is legal to both obtain and consume marijuana. Here, you will find a great review and description of a popular club in Barcelona. Also, because it is legal to smoke at home in Spain as well, a person can bring the cannabis that they’ve obtained at a club and bring it home, so long as it is completely concealed when they travel home.
Now, it’s important to note that Spain’s marijuana laws do have some flaws, and we shouldn’t copy the country’s rulings on the plant completely. For one, public consumption of marijuana is decriminalized (as I believe it should be in the United States as well), but the fine is about 300 Euros, or about $400, which is much too high of a fine for marijuana in America given the discriminatory nature of our drug enforcement. Second, in order to obtain a permit to be in a marijuana club or consume the plant at all, they must pay 20 Euros and put some form of identification on record to the marijuana club. I can’t speak from personal experience, but from what I know, if a tourist from outside the country wishes to obtain a marijuana permit, they would have to provide either a passport or some other form of ID so that the marijuana club can keep a photocopy of the ID on file.
While I don’t have a problem with a permit being necessary to be in the club, I don’t think that it should be required to smoke at home, so long as someone is of age, and I don’t think that it should cost the rough equivalent of $27. Both of these beliefs are again centered around the fact that drug laws in the US are already too discriminatory against the poor, and such laws with us might be more of a problem in America than Spain. As to whether or not a permit to obtain marijuana or be in a club should be required — I think that’s up for debate. While many would understandably feel that it contradicts personal liberties (and it’s important to note that neither Washington nor Colorado requires a permit), it would be very intriguing to give our society the option to revoke a marijuana club or even consumption license if a person violated a marijuana law (such as driving under the influence or giving the plant to minors).
In Spain, the marijuana clubs are legitimate, and are set up quite nicely for anyone who enters. Remember, it’s hard to find out the specifics of every single marijuana club, and I don’t have personal experience, but there are some facts about the clubs in general that seem pretty widespread. Inside, it’s completely legal to smoke, and the owners of the place can provide customers with bowls or papers to use for smoking, and, in some places, there are even game consoles to really make a smoker feel at home. It is possible to obtain the plant inside the club for a very low price of about $12-15 per gram, because Spain is close enough to legal growers in places like the Netherlands. The low price of marijuana in Spanish clubs demonstrates what could happen in America if more people can grow and supply the plant, therefore letting the free market take over to drive down prices. (The other thing that Spanish marijuana clubs need to change is that it’s apparently illegal to “buy” cannabis inside. The club will give the customer the plant, and then “ask for a donation,” which is obviously a little ridiculous — let’s just call “buying” what it really is.)
I don’t see why America couldn’t adopt the Spanish policy. Many are concerned that legalizing marijuana would increase the idea in our society that smoking at just any time is a good idea, which could lower people’s work ethic. Well, there is already an idea in society that a person shouldn’t drink a lot unless they are in a social situation, and the fact that bars and restaurants that serve alcohol are a big reason why, in my opinion. If we institute social places where people could go to consume marijuana, that could actually make more smokers believe that there is a specific time and place for marijuana consumption, which could alleviate the worries of many that our society is beginning to “encourage” marijuana use. We would have to Americanize the clubs a little bit, of course. For example, there has traditionally been more of a problem with driving while intoxicated in America than Europe, so we would probably encourage each club to partner with either a cab company or Uber, or at least make public transportation information very available inside the clubs.
But I think something like this could work. Setting up these types of marijuana clubs in the US would perfectly go along with the idea of legalizing but clearly regulating this plant.