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Barcelona traders demand action over rise of CBD shops ‘posing as florists’

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Over 100 ‘weed shops’ have opened in old city, says association, alleging many also sell psychoactive ingredient.

Barcelona’s old city has been overrun by outlets selling cannabis paraphernalia that are getting around tight zoning restrictions by registering as florists, disgruntled shopkeepers say.

In recent years, so-called weed shops have sprung up all over the city but are mainly concentrated in Ciutat Vella, the oldest part of the city and the area most popular with tourists.

Over the past six years, 118 new “florists” have opened in Ciutat Vella, compared with just 21 in the rest of the city. Barcelona’s florists’ association says it is unaware of any boom in flower selling, and the number of florists in the city has been stable for years.

It is thought that there are as many as 250 weed shops in the city, selling bongs, hookahs, seeds and cannabis oil (CBD) products.

Cannabidiol (CBD) is extracted from marijuana plants and is sold legally in many countries for the treatment of anxiety, insomnia and other conditions. The World Health Organization has reported “no evidence of public health related problems associated with the use of pure CBD”.

However, Barna Centre, the city’s shopkeepers’ association, alleges the weed shops also sell sweets and other products with illegal concentrations of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) the ingredient in cannabis that produces a high.

The association claims that numerous products, such as lollipops and brownies, marketed as non-psychoactive CBD derivatives contain as much as 150mg of the highly psychoactive THC.

It is calling on the local authority to introduce a specific licence for weed shops to stop them masquerading as florists. Barna Centre says the shops – many of which have occupied the premises of businesses forced to close during the pandemic – are bad for Barcelona’s image.

Meanwhile, the city has once again declared war on its 200 cannabis clubs, or asociaciónes as they’re known, quasi-legal clubs where members can buy and consume cannabis on the premises.

A law passed by the Catalan government in 2017 stipulated that the clubs could not make a profit, members had to be of legal age and each club could only grow 150kg of marijuana a year, with a limit of 60 grams per member each month.

However, the authorities claim that many clubs are flouting the law and are selling cannabis to tourists.

As Barcelona increasingly assumes Amsterdam’s mantle as a weed-smoker’s haven, it has become commonplace to be stopped in the street by young visitors asking the way to the nearest asociación.


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