Cannabis Social Clubs’ presence, ties, and practices within the European Union

Cannabis Social Clubs’ presence, ties, and practices within the European Union

Research Period

January 2019 – December 2021






Mafalda PARDAL



Cannabis Social Clubs; cannabis policy; comparative analysis; EU; social movement



Background and goals of the study

This study focuses on a particular model for the supply of cannabis: Cannabis Social Clubs (CSCs). CSCs are an intermediate, non-profit model, which rely on in-house growers to cultivate the cannabis that is distributed among CSCs’ adult members. CSCs have first emerged in Spain, but can be found in many other European countries today, although little is known about their features and the ties among them. This study contributes to filling that research gap by providing a mapping of the CSC presence across the European Union member states. The development of collaborative relationships among CSCs across countries will be explored, as well as the transfer of knowledge and/or practices, and eventual emergence of a transnational movement. As such, this study draws on social movement literature, particularly with regards to transnational processes. Special attention will be given to how European CSCs have operationalized the key principles and design characteristics typically associated with this model. As CSCs have primarily been driven by the (self-regulatory) efforts of cannabis users and activists, it is likely that practices may differ across settings. This study is relevant to develop the thinking on ‘supply architectures’ and its design, and is informative for current discussions about cannabis legalization. As such, the study is driven by the following research questions:

  • In which EU member states are CSCs currently active?
  • How do European CSCs organize the supply of cannabis?
    • What are the key differences and similarities in relation to the known practices?
  • To what extent have transnational dynamics emerged among European CSCs?
    • To what extent have CSCs developed common activities and shared knowledge?
    • Have supra-national organizations been created to represent CSCs?
    • To what extent is transnational collective action taking place?


Methodological approach

A mixed methods approach will be adopted in this study, combining both qualitative and quantitative approaches to better understand the issues under analysis (Creswell & Clark, 2011; Creswell, Clark, Gutmann, & Hanson, 2003). As the underlying goal is to learn about the CSC phenomenon (in all its possible facets), the inclusion of study participants will be based on CSCs’ own self-representation as such (i.e., if an organization considered itself a CSC, that will suffice for taking part in the study). Specifically, the following data collection and analysis steps will be taken:

  • Literature review and online searches
  • Survey among European CSCs
  • (Case study in selected country – to be determined)