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Cannabis social clubs (CSCs) in Spain are non-profit organisations that connect regular adult cannabis users. One of their functions is to supply cannabis to the closed circuit of members. The CSCs do not breach any international treaties. The aim of the paper is to present the findings of a qualitative study among Spanish CSCs in order to assess their potential for minimising the harm resulting from cannabis use (such as respiratory and mental health risks, the risk of dependence, and social risks).


A convenience sample of 11 CSCs was selected from four regions of Spain – the Basque country, Catalonia, the Balearic Islands, and Galicia. 94 respondents took part in 14 focus groups (FGs). The number of participants in a FG ranged from two to 12. A semi-structured interview guide and a structured questionnaire were used in the FG.


Members described a variety of risk minimising features of the CSCs: the availability of a quality product and mechanisms for its control, availability of different strains of cannabis and knowledge about their different psychoactive effects, increased control over personal cannabis use, informal information sharing and interaction, reduced stigma, and reduced criminal risks.


The fact that the CSCs have no incentive to increase members’ consumption means that they should be considered to be feasible spaces for the implementation of public health policies. Policy objectives could include a requirement that CSC members have control over the quality of cannabis, that different strains of cannabis are available together with information on their effects, that quantity of cannabis at intake is restricted and planned for each member, and that harm minimisation activities are both formally and informally implemented in the clubs.

Copyright © 2016 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.