A total of 52 percent of Spaniards are in favour of legalizing the sale and private consumption of cannabis, a new study by Spain’s Foundation for Help Against Drug Addiction (Fad) shows.
While the buying or selling of cannabis is a criminal offence in Spain, growing it on private property for private consumption is legal.
Spain’s already relatively lax cannabis laws have seen a wave of 'cannabis clubs' open their doors around the country, with Barcelona being a particular hot spot, christened the 'new Amsterdam' by some.
Around 28 percent of Spaniards believe these clubs are a positive initiative which promotes the controlled use of cannabis, according to the Fad study. A further 22 percent said such clubs "don’t bother" them while 8 percent said they were a "legal joke".
Spain’s increasingly permissive attitude towards marijuana is in contrast, however, to a generally tougher stance on drugs.
Some 72.9 percent of people said police and border controls needed to be beefed up to fight drug crime, a long way up from the 43.5 percent rate seen in 2004.
The percentage of people who want stricter drug laws has also climbed from 48.1 percent to 70.3 percent.
The Fad report also shows Spaniards are less accepting of the use of legal drugs. Thirty percent of people polled said there should be tougher controls on the buying of alcohol while 61 percent said they were in favour of the country’s new tobacco laws which prohibits smoking in public places including restaurants and bars
A further 15 percent would like to see the country’s anti-tobacco laws toughened up.
“For a long time, drugs in Spain were demonized, and the attitude was that only bad people took them,” Fad director Ignacio Calderón told The Local.
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“Alcohol and tobacco were products your friends and family used and therefore they weren't 'drugs' and weren't harmful. That has changed now though, especially as people have started to realize that other people’s alcohol abuse affects them, or that passive smoking is a general threat.”
Calderón isn't in favour of tougher laws, saying education is the best way to attack drug addiction, but concedes this is a medium to term solution and that laws can provide for more rapid changes in society.
The Fad study was based on around 1,500 people aged 15 to 65.