Ibiza is world-famous for its high-paced, frenetic atmosphere and clubbing lifestyle-not usually my “thing,” but as one of my best friends was celebrating her birthday, I was persuaded to join in on the action for a few days. While I was there, I set aside some time for fact-finding about the local cannabis scene to see what Ibiza has in store for the everyday stoner. We stayed in Sant Antoni de Portmany, the island’s “original party town,” which is situated on the northwest of the island. Like many other Spanish holiday destinations, it’s absolutely full of English tourists, with a healthy sprinkling of Italians, Germans and Dutch.
Unlike other destinations such as Magaluf or Benidorm, Ibiza does have a certain air of sophistication. In general, it attracts a more affluent, “classy” crowd-the lavish nightclubs charge high prices for both entry and drinks, and attire is expected to be smart and sexy. The island’s main party towns get astonishingly crowded during the summer, but it’s less likely to be full of half-naked, vomiting British teenagers than other holiday hotspots. We avoided the peak-summer crowds on this visit, opting to wait until the first week of October to attend the closing parties of the big clubs. The clubs themselves were full of late-season partygoers, but the streets were otherwise peaceful and relatively empty of tourists.
Being distracted by clubs, alcohol and nerve-grating house music, I didn’t do anything cannabis-related for the first few days. I did keep my eyes open for signs of people smoking weed, but didn’t really notice much at all-at first. I started to wonder if Sant Antoni was even weed-friendly. Maybe with this much house music, the only available drugs would be cocaine and MDMA! I had often been told of Ibiza’s cannabis growing community, but I was obviously in the wrong part of the island.
While slightly drunk and stumbling homewards on our third night, however, I randomly encountered a Gambian dude who kindly offered to help me out with some herb. We negotiated a jaw-droppingly exploitative “tourist” price for his tiny bags of dark-green, leafy schwag. As soon as we’d exchanged cash for goods, I made my excuses and went off to find my friends, who’d impatiently wandered off by then.
Getting back to our apartment, I realized the bud was practically unsmokable-but given my semi-drunk state, I didn’t really care so much. Toking resentfully on my subpar, blindingly-expensive joint, I resolved to find something better the next day. Of course, once I was focused on the mission, things started to fall into place pretty quickly. I managed to find my first local Spanish contact and made arrangements to meet later that day. Unfortunately, high winds elsewhere on the island meant my motorcycle courier couldn’t make it to me. I went back to the drawing board.
Walking along the beach later that day, I quickly detected the fragrant aroma of top-shelf herb. The fine scent appeared to be wafting from a shirtless tattooed guy standing on the beach, overlooking the bay. He turned out to be a grower, originally from the U.K., and was more than happy to help me out-providing I kept any identifying information to myself. He confirmed what I’d been told several times previously: Ibiza is full of growers and extract artists. Finding decent product is easy most of the time, and the local climate yields outdoor crops of particularly high quality.
Finding this new friend ticked a much-needed box for me, but I still had to complete my final stage of investigation into the local scene. Readers are no doubt aware that Spain has a large number of Cannabis Social Clubs scattered around its territories. I’ve personally covered the scene in the Canary Islands, Barcelona and the Basque Country, so I wanted to find out more about local clubs. According to Weedmaps, there are nine Cannabis Social Clubs on the island: Six in Ibiza town, and three in Sant Antoni. Throughout Spain, clubs are all members-only and make it policy to only serve local residents. In locations such as Barcelona, however, it can be very easy to circumvent the “local resident” rule and gain membership to multiple clubs. In more closed-off locations it can be much harder, but good networking can help get one’s foot in the door. In some cases being a journalist helps; in others, it has quite the opposite effect!
I asked my Spanish friends for a connection to a Sant Antoni club, but was disappointed. I tried to email, text and call the most promising club on the list and got nothing in return but silence. I decided not to go and turn up on the doorstep, figuring it’d be a wasted trip. Eventually I managed to get a contact to a highly-rated club in Ibiza Town, the island’s capital. I was running out of time on the island, but on my way to the airport I managed to make a quick detour to stop off and say hello. Out of respect for the establishment, I am not able to give any concrete details about the place itself. The scene in Ibiza is tightly-closed, and the club owners have to deal with suspicious law enforcement agents. However, I can say that the staff were friendly and helpful, the weed appeared to be of high quality, and the establishment was clean and beautifully designed.
On this sophisticated party island, it seems that the cannabis clubs also maintain top-shelf standards! We can only hope that Spain continues to liberalize its laws so we can all visit these remarkable establishments in a free and open environment.