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Many countries, one plant: Spain
In the next months I will report on two more European country (the UK and Holland), as well as Africa (Malawi, South Africa, Swaziland and Mauritius), and some of the Caribbean islands (Jamaica, Antigua, St Lucia, Barbados and St. Vincent).
Spain has always had and always will have a special place in my heart. Even if I grew up in Italy, a quarter of my blood is Spanish, and Iâ€™ve always felt a special connection with this country and its people. Spain is one of the warmest and most welcoming countries in the whole European continent, and this attitude is reflected in the cannabis scene as well. Cannabis has always been part of Spanish popular culture, due to the proximity of Morocco and to a favourable climate where the cannabis plant thrives. In every Spanish city, from Madrid to Barcelona, from Bilbao to Cadiz, smoking cannabis is a very common recreational activity, one that spans across all levels of society and that unites completely different characters into one subculture. The attitude of the government towards cannabis use in the last decade has confirmed to be one of the most tolerant in Europe with consumers, while the focus of most police work is focused on the large quantities of hashish entering Spain on the way to virtually every other European country, as well as on hard drug trafficking (Spain is still the top entry-point for cocaine from South America to Europe).
In many Spanish cities there are bars and restaurants where the use of cannabis is tolerated under certain unwritten agreements between owners and customers. It is possible to consume hashish or marihuana on premises if no dealing takes place and no customer is bothered by the smell. This phenomenon is in sharp contrast with another example of tolerance in society, the Dutch one, where cannabis consumption is much more â€œofficially regulatedâ€ and, in practice, more controlled than in Spain. Spanish cannabis users do not face the same level of harassment from the authorities that is common in the majority of other European countries, starting from neighbouring France.
But there is something about Spain that is even more impressive than the general attitude of society towards cannabis users, and that is the quality of Spanish produced weed. Over the last 10 years Spain has seen a booming cannabis culture expanding its horizons and reaching out to Holland thirsty for knowledge. There are now several seed companies in Spain, and some produce fine genetics. No other European country has ever had such a fast boom in the industry, with the exception of Holland in the 1980s, when the Coffeeshops and grow-shops became a real industry and a market-force.
The number of seed banks, growshops, and the number and quality of magazines dedicated to the sector, is a clear sign that Spain is rapidly becoming one of the top-cannabis destinations in Europe. More and more cannabis-conscious tourists are selecting the many Spanish Costas for their holidays, certain of the availability of fresh Moroccan hashish and outdoor local weed, combined with great beaches, great food, ancient art and history, and gorgeous landscapes.
The average Spanish cannabis grower is usually busy self-supporting his recreational habit, and rarely profits from selling cannabis. The criminal organizations, on the other hand, are too busy on the Morocco-to-Europe superhighway to dedicate any time and energy to growing pot on European soil, a far more complicated activity compared to the hash smuggling. The profits from the smuggling of hashish from Morocco are likely to be diverted into other criminal activities, often in contrast with the morale of most recreational cannabis users, and this contributes to separate the two worlds of organized-smugglers and private-growers, a bit the same that happens in Italy. Spanish people have the blessing of a very favourable climate to grow cannabis, and most do it outdoors. Only in the last 5 years there has been a steep increase in the number of indoor operations, usually small single-lamp cabinets, and more rarely tunnels or glasshouses. Outdoor growers often plant in remote areas, in the wild, following the example of the guerrilla-grows typical of North America. Most growers in Spain start each crop from seeds, and rarely rely on mother plants and cuttings to propagate their genetics. Nevertheless, the Spanish cannabis industry has become very strain-conscious, and growers are starting to be very selective in what they plant.
Different regions of Spain can successfully produce different kinds of crops. In the North of the country the shorter summer pushes most growers towards fast-finishing indica strains. In the South the long, hot summer allows growers to finish off the most long-flowering sativas. The Canary Islands, the southernmost point of Europe, boast an African climate blessed with a fertile land, and here the results obtainable outdoors are unbeaten on the rest of the continent. The tallest cannabis plant I have seen in Europe was a haze, in Gran Canaria.
A derivate of the strain-related culture of growing is the production of home-made high-grade hashish, an activity that has started in Spain in the 1990s and is now thriving. Spanish smokers love to use every part of the plants, and more and more growers are collecting trim to make pollinator or isolator hashish. The cleanest isolator I ever tasted in my life was made in Madrid.
Spanish companies now are big players in the canna-industry at European and worldwide level. After many years spent importing products from Holland and North America, Spanish companies started producing their own. There are now several strong Spanish names in the business, and the growth doesnâ€™t want to stop.
Also on the medicinal side the progress has been fast and effective. Many associations at regional and local level are uniting medical cannabis users into a large nationwide movement, with political and scientific links that guarantee their voices are heard in the government. As an example I want to mention one of the many players in this complicate but dignified business. When I visited Barcelona in more than one occasion I had contact with ARSEC, a local association promoting medicinal cannabis. The people involved were extremely helpful and professional in explaining the various issues that medicinal users are facing in Spain, and proved that their beliefs and their passion are the right tools to achieve the goal of positioning cannabis between the medications available to those in need.
In conclusion, there are many righteous reasons why Spain is rapidly conquering a spot in the list of the most cannabis-friendly countries of the planet.
Franco â€“ Green House Seed Co.
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