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Spain becomes nation of stoners as popularity of cannabis clubs soars

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Spain becomes nation of stoners as popularity of cannabis clubs soars
A man smokes marijuana at the ExpoCannabis trade fair outside Madrid. Javier Soriano / AFP.
12:03 CEST+02:00
Spain has overtaken the Netherlands as a marijuana smoking nation and is third in the world behind Iceland and the United States, new data shows.

Maps created recently by Recovery Brands, which operates addiction rehab and recovery websites, reveal that Spain is third in the world for prevalence of cannabis use with ten percent of the population regularly using the drug.

Iceland is the top country for smoking weed, with between 160 and 190 people smoking a spliff per 1,000 adults, it says, while the US comes in second with between 130 and 160 users per 1,000 adults.

Spain also has lower prices for marijuana than many other parts of Europe, according to the Recovery Brands maps, which used UN data.

Spain has been dubbed the new Amsterdam of Europe with a rise in the number of legal members-only cannabis clubs that take advantage of a provision in Spain's drug laws that forbid trafficking it or smoking it in public, but allow marijuana to be grown and consumed for private use.

While Catalonia and the Basque Country have become the heartland of weed smokers, such clubs are on the rise all across Spain.

Madrid has seen 40 cannabis associations open since 2011, according to a report in the Spanish newspaper El Pais on Monday.

This puts the Madrid metropolitan area in fourth place for communities with the highest number of registered marijuana groups, behind Catalonia (162), the Basque Country (119) and the Canary Islands (69).

Cannabis clubs say there are now about 200 members in the capital and this number continues to rise.

Spanish Supreme Court ruling last month could set precedent for how cannabis clubs operate after the court declared a 290-member Bilbao club in violation of public health for exceeding the philosophy of shared consumption.

Spain has a higher number of marijuana smokers than tobacco smokers and also has one of the highest rates of youth marijuana use in Europe. A poll last December showed that more than half of all Spaniards wanted cannabis to be fully legalized.

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