LAST UPDATED: 31st December 2020
- Possession & Consumption
- Other Hemp Products
- The difference between THC and CBD
- How to legally obtain Cannabis in Tenerife
- How do Cannabis Social Clubs Operate?
- Bodhi Sativa / Urban Cream – Cannabis Members Club / CBD Stockist
One of the first questions expats and visitors to Tenerife often ask, is whether cannabis is legal in Tenerife. However, the answer is not quite so straightforward. We will try to summarise the rather complex (and grey area) rules below:
- Possession & Consumption
The good news is that when you are on private premises (e.g. a private home, a private cannabis social club, or anywhere else not accessible to the general public), the possession and/or consumption of cannabis in a quantity deemed reasonable for your personal use is legal.
Possession or consumption of a ‘personal use’ quantity in a public place, whilst not technically a crime, is classed a minor public offence infraction that can result in a fine plus confiscation of your stash, but NOT a criminal record.
Growing small quantities of cannabis in a private place strictly for your own personal use (or for the collective use of registered members of an official cannabis social club) is legal. However, there is no hard and fast rule as to what constitutes a ‘personal’ quantity. So if the police received a complaint from a neighbour or member of the public, and they considered that you had plants or cultivated product larger than justifiable for personal use, they could theoretically confiscate your plants and stash and leave the determination of your guilt to a Judge. If found guilty of cultivating or possessing a marketable quantity of cannabis, offenders can expect a typical prison sentence of 1 year upwards plus a heavy fine.
Tenerife has no shortage of cannabis social clubs, particularly in the popular tourist areas. However, the majority of such clubs operate illegally in one way or another, typically by peddling to the lucrative tourist market. Some don’t have the correct government licence to operate as a cannabis social club. Others haven’t obtained the correct Ayuntamiento (Town Hall) business trading licence (specific to the club’s premises). In some cases, they have obtained the two said licences, but then fail to meet the standards and requirements set by the Town Hall (street level premises, privacy from outside, minimum ceiling height, smoke extraction etc etc). Others break one or more of the ‘cardinal rules’ of cannabis social clubs (see below) that are certain to attract the attention of the authorities.
The sale of cannabis is STRICTLY PROHIBITED in any quantity, whether in public or in private. Those caught can expect jail time of between 1 – 3 years for a first offence, or upwards for repeat offenders. The only way to acquire cannabis legally in Tenerife is to be ‘dispensed’ the product as a registered member of a licenced and authorised outlet like a registered cannabis social club.
To get around the express ban on ‘selling’ cannabis, the authorised cannabis social clubs exploit a legal loophole whereby they are permitted to charge membership fees to their members, who in return gain membership of the club, which includes a designated cannabis ‘allowance’ each week or month. Hence, they are technically buying membership in the club, but not the product itself.
4. Other Hemp Products
It is legal in Tenerife to buy, sell or possess cannabis seeds or other hemp products including CBD oil and cosmetics containing hemp, provided the supplier is properly registered and certified within the EU for the sale of such products.
5. The Difference between THC and CBD
A lot of confusion exists over the difference between THC and CBD extracts/products, although the two compounds are quite different.
Both are chemical compounds found in the Cannabis Sativa plant. Whilst containing various cannabinoid compounds, the two most important compounds found in the plant are THC and CBD.
THC is the compound that gives Cannabis its notoriety – and typical illegality – in many countries. The compound is responsible for producing the psychoactive ‘high’ sensation that users of Cannabis typically experience.
By comparison, the CBD compound produces no such ‘high’, resulting in it being legal in Spain and many other countries, provided its THC trace amounts are below 0.3%.
THC is typically only harvested from Cannabis Sativa plants, whilst CBD is typically extracted from ordinary Hemp plants, due to the prohibitive cost (and legal complications) of cultivating Cannabis Sativa plants. Both Hemp plant and CBD products are legal in Spain, provided they contain a THC trace amount of less than 0.3%.
Whilst naturally occuring THC or CBD extracts and their potential medicinal benefits continue to be ignored or blocked by big pharma, there is now growing evidence as to the medicinal benefits of such products, even though they can only be marketed, at best, as a ‘food supplement’. Reported and documented benefits of the two compounds include:
CBD: Seizures, inflammation, pain, psychosis, mental disorders, IBS, nausea, migrane, depression, anxiety. There is also growing evidence that CBD may help to prevent / control / fight certain types of cancers.
THC: Pain relief, muscle spacticity, glaucoma, insomnia, low appetite, nausea, anxiety. Similarly to THC, there is also growing evidence that THC may have anti-cancer properties.
6. How to legally obtain cannabis in Tenerife
For those not wishing to risk buying their stash illegally on the street or grow their own small quantities at home, the only legal way to obtain cannabis in Tenerife is to become a registered member of a cannabis social club.
7. How do Cannabis Social Clubs in Tenerife operate?
Whilst there are dozens of cannabis social clubs in Tenerife, many are operating illegally, either partially, or in some cases, blatantly. Let’s review some of the key laws, regultations and/or Court-clarified guidelines applicable to cannabis social clubs, which will hopefully explain why many clubs attract unwanted attention from the police.
- Clubs must obtain a Cannabis Social Club Licence from the Spanish government. In Tenerife, there is currently a moratorium on any new licences being issued;
- Clubs must then apply to the local Ayuntamiento (Town Hall) for a business opening licence, tailored to the club’s premises and its specifications. Many Town Halls now have stringent requirements for issuing opening licences to Cannabis Social Clubs;
- Clubs should be located at street level, be closed to the public and ensure no club activity is visible, or odour detectable, from any public area;
- Club premises must comply with strict requirements, including minimum ceiling height, adequate smoke extraction and filtering of odours and noise, disabled access toilet, controlled door entry etc;
- Clubs are subject to strict opening hours as dictated by each local Town Hall;
- Clubs must operate strictly on a ‘private members’ basis;
- Members must be over 21, of sound mind and not in a vulnerable category;
- Members should be resident in Tenerife, although loopholes exist for those who reserve and forward their ID in advance, or those introduced by an existing member;
- Clubs may only cultivate/procure sufficient cannabis to cater for their registered members and should keep membership records to justify the quantity held on the premises or in the process of cultivation. The cannabis CANNOT be purchased (i.e. via black market);
- In return for a weekly/monthly membership fee, registered members are dispensed a fixed cannabis ‘allowance’. No cannabis may be ‘sold’ or dispensed in excess of the said allowance;
- Members may not take any of their cannabis allowance out of the club. Legal clubs maintain lockers at the club to allow members to store their unused cannabis;
- Alcohol consumption or sale is STRICTLY forbidden within clubs, as is the consumption or distribution of any other controlled substance or drug;
- Clubs must operate on a ‘non profit’ basis. Any money left over following each cultivation cycle and distribution should be reinvested in the club for the benefit of its registered members (i.e. reducing the price of the next month’s membership);
- Clubs may not publicly advertise the availability of cannabis or the location of the club, nor may they place any personal representatives or touts in the street;
- Clubs may not offer ‘live entertainment’ or gambling of any kind;
Due to the repeated refusal of the Spanish government to introduce any laws better defining permitted cannabis use or the operation of cannabis social clubs, some the above rules are remain as ‘guidelines’, having been taken from comments made by senior criminal Judges in cannabis proceedings. However, certain rules, e.g. serving cannabis to minors, or serving alcohol from the premises, are a clear criminal offence. A club owner in Adeje was recently arrested after 5 minors were caught in his club in possession of cannabis obtained on the premises.
Other matters such as the permitted number of members per club, the quantity of cannabis each member may be dispensed and the rules governing cultivation and transportation of each club’s cannabis are legally undefined and hence are a grey area. However, clubs that follow the above guidelines as closely as possible are far less likely to attract the unwanted attention of the authorities than those clubs who flagrantly ignore the guidelines. Infractions can result in closure, fines and even substantial jail time for the club’s registered owners. However, the more reputable clubs at least try to follow the above rules as closely as possible whilst maintaining a good working relationship with members, officials and the police alike.
This article was prompted in part by a growing number of enquiries we are receiving regarding cannabis use and its availability in Tenerife. We will expand the article in time with a list of reputable Cannabis Members Associations in Tenerife.
8. Bodhi Sativa – Urban Cream – Cannabis Members Association & CBD Stockist
At the time of publication, the only club we have reviewed in detail and vetted for legal compliance is ‘Bodhi Sativa / Urban Cream Collective’. Located in the centre of Los Cristianos. Inaugurated in December 2020, we were personally invited to visit the club and review their Canarian Government Cannabis Members Association Licence, Arona Town Hall Business Opening Licence and Association Insurance, all of which are in order. The club itself adheres to strict rules and procedures and at the time of writing appears to be 100% legal.
Whereas many Cannabis Clubs in Tenerife are dark and dingy with a couple of IKEA sofas, a Playstation and Hip Hop grafitti on the walls, Urban Cream Collective is entirely unique in being the most opulent/luxurious Cannabis Members Club we have come across in Tenerife. The club features an Urban Industrial style decor with a welcoming ambience, luxurious furniture and some really cool features. At the time of writing, the club boasted 22 different varieties of cannabis, all of top quality, due to the club’s ‘Urban Melt’ collaboration with some of the island’s best cultivators, some of whom now cultivate exclusively for Urban Cream Collective’s members. The club also produces a select range of ‘THC edibles’ and has also managed to source THC vape pens and even Cannabis cigars!
In addition to full THC cannabis products, the club’s associated shop stocks a wide range of CBD products, primarily CBD oils (in droplet, spray and capsule forms), CBD Body Butter and CBD Muscle Rub Relief Gel. All products are ecologically/organically produced in the EU, laboratory tested for quality and purity and are of unrivalled quality compared to other such products available in Tenerife.
For more information on club membership or the shop’s CBD products, check out their website: www.bodhisativa.es