Police raid Europe’s largest cannabis farm and destroy over 400,000 hemp plants

A hemp mega-farm in northern Spain, intended to manufacture CBD products, was seized on Wednesday and destroyed by federal police.

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Authorities in the Navarra region have called the 166-acre plantation, which contained 415,000 plants worth $110 million, the largest cannabis farm in Europe.

A statement from the Guardia Civil, Spain’s federal police agency, said around 50 tonnes (121,500 pounds) of the plant was found being dried in a warehouse. They were destined by growers for neighboring Italy and Switzerland to be processed into CBD.

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CBD in Spain is legal

The sale and consumption of CBD is legal in Spain and most of Europe, but Spanish law only allows domestic growers to cultivate cannabis for industrial purposes, primarily for the manufacture of textiles. Growing hemp for CBD or is still prohibited and punishable by a prison sentence of three to six years.

Police said three people were arrested in connection with the investigation, which began in mid-2021 when authorities discovered one of the fields and ended on Wednesday. The owners of the plantation initially told the Guardia Civil that the farm was actually a legal setup designed to grow industrial hemp for textiles, not CBD products.

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Lawyers not happy

News of Wednesday’s mega-bust drew fierce criticism from cannabis advocates in Spain and across Europe, many of whom questioned Spanish authorities’ decision to punish growers for a ‘grey area’ in federal law. Research on the plant shows that CBD can help users manage a variety of ailments and symptoms, including depression, anxiety, chronic pain, epilepsy, inflammation, and insomnia, among others. medical conditions.

“CBD has been a form of medicine that has changed the lives of countless people,” said Maite Nieto, a Madrid-based advocate for the Spanish Cannabis Industry Guild. “Having laws that allow Spaniards to buy and use the plant but not grow it is inherently discriminatory and costs our country millions of dollars in taxes every year.”

Many European countries have legalized medical cannabis, while a growing number have at least decriminalized personal use and possession. Yet protections for producers have been few. In addition to Spain, at least 20 of the 27 member countries of the European Union prohibit domestic growers and producers from cultivating the plant for CBD or THC products. Instead, many of these products are sourced from countries where production is legal. The Court of Justice of the European Union ruled in November 2020 that CBD products can circulate freely in commerce within the EU.