Two young tourists with a South American accent inspect the flashy and colorful shelves of a large I love cannabis marijuana paraphernalia store located near La Rambla.
“On this side we have products made with CBD, which basically relax and that –explains a very helpful clerk–, and on this other side we have products made with different doses of HHC, which is a derivative of THC, the active principle of marijuana ...”. The two young tourists nod, very interested. "And, well, they are much more powerful than CBD, they have another effect," says the clerk, now with a much more enigmatic tone.
We are mainly talking about jelly beans that look similar to those of a lifetime, in the shape of colored bears, soda bottles and other very childish motifs. “Ten euros for a jelly bean!” the two young tourists exclaim incredulously. The truth is that the candy in question is more expensive than an ecstasy pill or a couple of lines of cocaine, to give two examples.
"Yes, well," replies the clerk, "but you only have to take half, and later the other half, and in this way the effect can last four or five hours." Apparently the brownie e from HHC is more affordable than the packets of jelly beans. It costs 35 euros, the brown ie, but a bite is enough... A look at the website of the supplier of these products shows that wholesale these products cost less than half of their retail price, than the margin of benefits is tremendously high.
"We could try," says one of the tourists with a South American accent to the other. Total, we are in Barcelona. And better to try here than with what they offer you on the street, right? –He adds to convince his friend–. At least this is a normal store, right? It will not happen to us like the other time...".
"So all of this is legal, right? Even if it says high and all," says the other tourist to the shop assistant while inspecting one of the colorful packets of jelly beans. If the police find these jelly beans on me, I won't have a problem, right? I don't want problems with the police."
“Indeed,” the clerk reassures, “all these products are legal. What they sell on the streets, no... but this...". "And why does it say here on the label that this is a collector's item, not intended for consumption, keep out of the reach of children, its sale to those under 18 years of age is prohibited...?"
"Well," the clerk excuses himself, throwing balls outside, "there are people who collect these things...". Some laughing cigarettes already rolled at about 25 euros each are also labeled as collector's items – like stamps and coins...–. “People also use them as air fresheners.” "Oh". “He leaves them on in a room and…”. In the end, tourists opt for a package of jelly beans for about 40 euros, which are cheaper that way.
A few weeks ago, The Guardian published a report on the recent proliferation of this type of commercial establishment in the center of Barcelona. One can find similar businesses in many cities, but such a concentration seems unheard of.
The newspaper also echoed the discomfort of the Barcelona florists' union, since most of these types of shops operate with a florist's license. Others, the least, do it as a gift shop. And it also gave an account of the tiredness of the Barna Center, of the main association of merchants of the Gòtic. For weeks the entity has been demanding that the government of Mayor Jaume Collboni put some order in the sector, that it design a specific license for this type of business, that it comply with European regulations that only allow the sale of products with cannabidiol for topical use. or cosmetic, as well as for collecting or vaping, but never as part of food.
After these complaints, two weeks ago, the Urban Police intervened in establishments in Ciutat Vella more than a thousand food products. The Public Health Agency of Barcelona is still analyzing them.
Industry sources, who prefer to remain anonymous, explain that a few years ago the situation in Amsterdam was very similar to what Barcelona is currently experiencing, but that the authorities designed a specific license for these businesses, and also restricted the streets where they could be established. in order to avoid exaggerated monocultures. "Today we can find these stores in many cities -sources abound-, but the only one that is presenting as many concentrations as the one in Barcelona is Prague".
And a few meters further up, in the busiest section of the Rambla, at the height of Calle Portaferrisa, the hissing of drug dealers is continuous, all the time, from noon... You didn't see so many in this side of town since pre-pandemic times. Just around the fountain that overlooks the Gòtic we counted half a dozen, at one time, on a Friday afternoon. And his attitude is different. The truth is that once they seemed much more sinister. These days they are much more friendly, friendly and open than ever, as if they were the public relations of a nightclub!
"Coffee shop, cannabis club, hashish, marijuana, whatever you need...", they let go of anyone who passes by, like the waiters who hum all the time paella, sangria, little fish... "Look, if you want hashish or marijuana we can go to a club here next door and I'll make you a member in a moment. Do you have your identification document? -says one, jovial, as big as a wardrobe, showing an immense smile full of teeth like pearls, in English-, but it's nonsense... becoming a member costs 20 euros, and the truth is that we can fix everything right here. "Yes, okay, I'm visiting...". "No problem. We do it right here. You don't have to become a member of any club, that way you save 20 euros! Tell me what you need: marijuana, hashish... or do you prefer something else?" "Ay! I do not know". “You look like you need something more,” he adds mischievously, stretching his smile even further. I have everything: ecstasy, MDMA, cocaine, speed...”. "Really?". "Of course, what do you want? Something relaxing or boom boom party? Do you want to go there or…?” "I have to think about it, are you around here normally?" "Look, no problem. I'm here all day, and if you can't find me, you call me. He points... first you have to dial 34, the prefix for Spain. My name is Calvin! You call me, write to me, whatever you want. You tell me that you are the undecided one and that's it!" "Okay, thank you very much, Calvin."
“Yes,” confirms Fermín Villar, from the Amics de la Rambla neighborhood and business association, “the truth is that the traffickers who set up shop on the Rambla this summer are more sophisticated than ever. Lately we even have an Italian with a vest and hat who looks like he came out of Nine Queens. I guess this is how they try to gain the trust of tourists. In addition, they get along very well with each other, they don't seem to have a problem sharing the same spaces, they give the impression that they operate in a coordinated way, at noon you already have them all there, in the upper part of the Rambla, every day . And the most sinister, those of a lifetime, prefer to go further down, on Calle Escudellers and its surroundings, as they always did. There the environment is harsher... We appreciate the attitude of the new municipal government. At least they seem to realize the danger."