BARCELONA (TIP): On a recent evening, two vacationing German college students, armed with addresses they had gotten off the internet, were trying to get into one of Barcelona’s new marijuana clubs. They were not members. But no matter. They quickly found a club near the city’s central boulevard, La Rambla, that was willing to ignore the rules, helping them choose from a dozen strains of marijuana for sale in plastic bins before letting them settle into the cushy lounge area to light up. Forty-five minutes later, they were back on the street, smiling.

“It was very nice,” said one of the students, who had researched cannabis clubs before choosing Barcelona as a holiday destination. “We will go back tomorrow.” The number of cannabis clubs that have opened in Barcelona recently has some experts saying this city will soon challenge Amsterdam as the go-to destination for vacationers who want to get high in peace. Even as Amsterdam has wrestled with drug tourism in recent years, reducing the number of coffee shops where it is legal to buy and smoke marijuana and hashish, about 300 new cannabis clubs have opened in Barcelona and the surrounding Catalan region, a result, at least in part, of enterprising Spaniards looking for new ways to earn a living, experts say.

It is not that Barcelona officials have given their blessing to this new phenomenon. The clubs are operating under decades-old Spanish laws that allow anyone to grow and smoke marijuana in private or to band together with others to form a cannabis club, as long as it is a nonprofit organization for members only, something like a chess or a cooking club. But in the last three years, new clubs have opened, maily in tourist areas like La Rambla, in many cases circumventing the spirit, if not the letter, of the law. While some clubs refuse walk-in customers like the German students, many of them offer membership (about 20) over the internet or by phone.