by Micha on 06/03/2014 | Cultural

Cannabis social clubs – Why didn’t we think of that…?

All of Europe is straining under the crisis. Well... maybe not all of Europe. An idea developed by some indomitable friends of hemp friends is flying straight in the face of the crisis. The first cannabis social clubs were established more than 10 years ago in Spain and today, every medium or large Spanish city centre has one. Even in Belgium, a legal cannabis social club by the name of "Trekt uw Plant" is in operation and in Uruguay, where cannabis has been made legal once again, this type of club is able to manoeuvre operate freely.


In France, where drugs legislation has been antiquated for years, the branch of the cannabis social club movement that was brought to life by Dominic Broque Broc is receiving increasingly more attention from the media and is gaining more supporters.

Germany is characterised by associations and clubs

CSC_Kühlschrank2And social clubs in Germany? Well, there the idea is catching on too. What else would you expect from people who seem to be born with a penchant for forming clubs and associations?

Nowhere else in the world are there so many clubs and associationsgroups that embody such diverse, and sometimes ludicrous, interests. Consider, for instance, the association to save the smock (Zusammenhang nur der Verein zur Rettung der Kleiderschürze), or the one to slow down time (Verein Zur Verlangsamung der Zeit).

In light of these two, why not have a cannabis social club? After all, there are an estimated four to six million cannabis users in Germany – far more than the wearers of flowery smocks or those carrying time-slowing devices.

The Dutch way

The idea of ‘social cultivation’ is so attractive because it excludes the thought of commercially exploiting the crop.

The tried and tested Dutch coffee shop model, on the other hand, is in grave danger, especially since the appointment of minister Ivo Opstelten, who has yet to find a solution to the balancing act between illegality, tolerance and commerce.

Watch this interesting Cannabis News Network video on Social Clubs in The Netherlands:

In contrast to paying a visit to a coffee shop, members of a cannabis cultivation association strive to achieve transparency and to fully separate their crops from the commercial trade. After all, the supply is always geared towards the association’s internal demand.

Production is limited to a pre-determined maximum and it is monitored very strictly; a model that is very reminiscent of the Eastern European planned economy, but with a twist. A model along these lines is less likely to be criticised for unlimited availability of the product.

As production is fully geared toward personal use, it is easier to reconcile with applicable international legislation and, very importantly, by collaborating with doctors and other experts, an association such as this can help to contribute towards preventing abuse.

Furthermore, minors are protected thanks to the minimum age requirement in effect under this model.

Legal clubs also offer those involved more legal certainty than, for instance, the policy of tolerating coffee shops does, and they are less subject to the political winds that blow when a new mayor is appointed or a new coalition is formed.

The Spanish model

To join most clubs in Spain, a member must be at least 21 years old, although some maintain a minimum age of 25 for new applicants.

In order to keep the association small and to suppress the temptations brought about by dreams of profit, most Spanish clubs limit the number of members and in doing so, the maximum amount of cannabis to be cultivated.

For this very reason, the size of the cannabis social clubs in Uruguay is limited to 99 members each. Furthermore, every aspiring member must be introduced by an existing member who will act as a guarantor for the newcomer, as it were.

Social Clubs for Spanish patients

Individuals suffering from chronic pain are admitted without an introduction, even after the maximum number of members has been reached. These individuals are only required to produce proof of their condition issued by a doctor.

Aspiring members are asked about the approximate amount of weed they smoke, eat or inhale in the course of a month. The individual monthly maximum amount varies from club to club and lies between 30g and 100g;, any more than that is not going to make many people happy.

The members decide collectively on the strains that will be cultivated and may purchase the end product at a reimbursement of expenses of €6.00 per gram on average. This amount covers the costs of sowing seed, electricity, fertiliser, the rent of the club building, the salaries of the professionals on both sides of the bar, as well asand a voluntarily paid tax.

Members are committed to the responsible use of cannabis, which is why they only allow it to be distributed by trained personnel. Their rule of thumb is that whoever requires more product than is allowed in the club’s charter either needs advice or counselling, and most associations are happy to provide it, too. After all, cannabis can be treacherous for those who don’t know when to stop.

The members elect a fixed group to cultivate the plants and ideally, the individuals appointed to this group already have some experience growing cannabis under artificial light. It’s not hard to calculate how much this team has to produce to meet the demand of 100 members who each use an average of 1g to 2g per day. When it is time to harvest the fruits of their labours, members can take on the role of voluntary pickers, which is something many do.

Cannabis social clubs in Germany — Are they even possible?

Now that the discussion surrounding cannabis has taken off in Germany too, the Deutsche Hanfverband (DHV) has published a handbook on the Internet. The handbook is intended for politicians and it has already been downloaded many times to serve as the foundation for a cannabis social club motion in municipal and district councils.

So far, many petitions have been submitted regarding cannabis social clubs and coffee shop pilot projects, and the DHV homepage provides detailed instructions and gives handy tips for starting a petition. There’s not much else that you can do with the prospect of four years of drugs legislation conservatism under the large social and Christian democrat coalition.

Fortunately, a cannabis social club or coffee shop pilot, such as the Kreuzberg district council in Berlin is advocating, is much more interesting than the rabbit breeding association committee elections, or the commission of a new community centre.

Free local papers are still read in the age of the Internet in almost every household and they spread our arguments to exactly where they need to be heard: to the people who don’t use cannabis and who are therefore satisfied with a general prohibition because they don’t quite realise that legalisation within strict child welfare legislation is also in their best interest.

There is still a great deal of work to be done, but the first click of a mouse is half the battle!

Comment Section

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hanspy

Nice piece. Germany is indeed in need for some changes. Cost time.Much time.

07/03/2014

Russ Hudson

Sorry Michael, but this article doesn't quite present the reality that is the cannabis club scene in Spain. Most clubs have hundreds of members, while about 40% of the clubs I am a member of in Barcelona have thousands of members. In fact, in an interview I did for TheLocal.es last month (which was published yesterday), a number of problems with the social club scene are outlined. Furthermore, legislation is coming in June (to Catalonia, anyway) that will seek to significantly restrict, control, align and regulate the clubs. This means that things could and probably will change dramatically in the next few months. So Germany using Spain's social clubs as a model probably isn't a good idea, considering Spain hasn't gotten it right yet. Not even close. If you'd like to learn more about how cannabis social clubs in Barcelona work, please see my article titled "10 Things You Need to Know About Barcelona Cannabis Clubs".
Of course, don't get me wrong - I am deeply connected to the cannabis club communities in Barcelona and I think it is absolutely critical that the clubs be regulated, but also that they be freer to operate and help more people without all the potentially damaging grey areas that exist in the Spanish laws today. The social club scene is a good thing for Barcelona, but before other countries go modeling after Spain, they should do a little bit more homework to ensure they don't make the same mistakes.

07/03/2014


FARId

Dear Friends,

Thanks for your interest Micha, and try to inspire your german fellows about Cannabis Social Club alternative model, but if I could have suggested you my prior advices, you should have mentionned ENCOD, and its European Code of Conduct. This in order to avoid the paradox, between a grassroot "global civil desobeidience" model of regulation cheered by citizen operating a non profit association, and many other situation that are occuring because of "grey zone" of each states rule of law on cannabis.

Also because I remain one of its inventor together with Martin Barriuso, Joep Oomen (who should have been quoted in your article to clearly give lights on Spain and Belgium), Virginia Montanez, Andre Furst, Laurent Appel and many others like Steffen Geyer in Germany , who tried to define sharply : cannabis social club as a "citizen group of non profit growers/consumers = prodUsers". I insist that there is a gap between "cannabis cafe/cannabis club" wich are bluntly "Cannabis Commercial Club/Cannabis Buyers club", and a non profit organisation that gathered peoples with a "social common interest"...

Also, I could have told you more about France, because things are still moving forward. But it can may be be the next article ?

Best regards,
FARId

11/03/2014


Russ Hudson

I wonder if, like most things, the balance must be struck somewhere in the middle - something Germany is typically good at. Meaning, there are two sides to the cannabis consumption equation - recreational and medical. Germany my do best with a model that embraces this duality by granting licenses specifically for private, medically-oriented clubs, and a limited number of licenses for recreational clubs that are more accessible to the public, sort of like "bars."

If anyone can regulate CSC's properly, it'll be Germany first, despite the US's advanced state of legalization.

12/03/2014

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