«Do you smoke?» They asked me on a Saturday at about 5 p.m. «Tobacco, no,» I replied jokingly to my interlocutor, a friend of a friend who had agreed on a couple of nights, one of them certainly wild that included mezcals, fights, attempted robberies, a fight and a vomit In a taxi.
– «Do you feel like going to a smoking club?»
When I heard it, the first thing I thought about was a group of old men smoking a pipe and chatting about politics, economics and in-depth issues, but that didn’t hit me with the person I was talking to, so I told him that he will explain well in what was that before anything else?
“It’s a place where you pay 10 euros a month to become a member, and there you can smoke your joints quietly. They have a lot of variety and the quality is incredible, you can’t imagine ”.
«And is that legal ???» It was my astonished response, because I had no idea that there were such places, a kind of Spanish coffee shops in which, he explained, there are cultural activities, movies, football, you can drink beer and, all this, without break the law. You arrive, you ‘withdraw’ cannabis (you never buy or catch) and smoke. Yes, you had to meet him.
Everything smells clandestine, forbidden, not too legal. But it is. Or at least a priori. The black door, the darkness around her, creates a certainly murky halo that leaves a feeling of entering a place outside the law. When they receive you, the first question is a ‘what do you want’ for something intimidating. And it is not a free access site for everyone: anyone who wants to join the club, should be recommended by a member . Or fill in an inscription that will be very studied before receiving the ‘ok’.
Once it is clarified that you are going on behalf of someone you trust, an ‘old’ partner, and that you declare yourself a habitual cannabis smoker, the explanation comes. » We are a non-profit association» , they begin to clarify that the money it costs to become a member (around 10 euros per month or 50 per year is usual in these places) is because «you have to pay the electricity, rent and the people who work here. « The system is like that of a cooperative. «Just like tomatoes or eggplants, ours is cannabis,» they explain. The idea is clear: a joint crop in which each member then withdraws their product. And the key word in this club is WITHDRAWAL. «You don’t get or buy, you withdraw your product . « They place special emphasis on this so that they are not accused at any time of drug trafficking, while explaining that the amount they have in the store is not too high.
It is striking how much discretion is affected as the key to a local like this not having problems with the authorities. «Never stay at the door», «if you wait for a friend, do it elsewhere, a little apart», «do not leave the car in a double row at the door» or «do not take drinks or of course smoke outside» These are some of the keys that point you. The goal is not to attract attention, not to disturb anyone, to go completely unnoticed. Make it a perfect business for the rest of the neighbors, who don’t have a single complaint.
And then comes the big question, one of the most controversial aspects: can the ‘withdrawn product’ be taken to the street? Yes you can. It is yours and therefore you can take it home. As you are well reminded, it is illegal to take cannabis on public roads , so your advice is that you smoke it inside … or that you keep it in your parts. «There they cannot register you (the Police), and if they do, sign under protest and call us, we offer you legal support.» Of course, after this advice, they reiterate that the ideal is to consume the product within the premises , «which is what it is for,» and they offer you a kind of lockers so you can save what you have withdrawn and have not used up that day.
Once inside, nobody expects a cloudy place or a strange environment. Comfortable armchairs, some tables and bars. The most absolute normality. Concerts, football matches, monologues, a pool table, or board games are some of the activities offered by the club to hang out with your favorite drink and, of course, the local star product, cannabis. Several brochures show you the different and varied types of maria and cannabis for you to choose, a couple of people attend and advise you, let them examine you thoroughly and choose what you want. It can not be easier. It’s all so normal, so quiet, so seemingly ideal, that thinking that you can try to ban premises like that sounds a bit absurd.
PD: No, it is not difficult to find one of these places in Madrid. Just a simple Google search and several of them will be shown to you. Once there, you know what you are going to find.