Easy profits feed growth in Spain’s marihuana greenhouses

THE number of marihuana greenhouses in Spain has rocketed due to their profitability, alert National Police and Guardia Civil. The authorities said that the number of cannabis plantations they had found and dismantled had increased fivefold across Spain, although there were greenhouse hotspots in Andalucia, Catalonia and the east coast of the country.
Authorities claim that these plantations are usually hidden in storage rooms, homes, garages or concealed in larger greenhouses located in industrial sites.
National Police seized a total of 86,000 marihuana plants in 2014. In just the first five months of 2015, they have already confiscated 60,000. Meanwhile, Guardia Civil seized a total of 105,000 plants in 2013. Between January and October of 2014, the most recent data released by the military police, they confiscated 90,300.
The amount of cannabis grown in the country and impounded by law enforcement teams has increased by an astounding 532 per cent between 2009 and 2013.
Spain is not the only country where the drug trade is increasingly green fingered, the greenhouse trend climbing across Europe. Between 2003 and 2013, police forces around the EU have gone from seizing 1.5 million plants per year to 3.7 million, according to the last European report on drugs 2015.
Planting cannabis is easier than trafficking, according to the chief inspector National Police drug squad, who said that this business had a lower level of risk, did not involve crossing borders, was cheap and accessible with a consumption culture that supported it.
Youths in Spain come fourth in levels of cannabis consumption in Europe, so growing marihuana for sale has a ready, profitable market. In addition, marihuana cultivation is increasingly viewed by society as an acceptable activity, and it is not compared with trafficking cocaine, for instance.
Together with Malaga, Murcia, Alicante and Valencia, Granada is one of the provinces where most plants have been seized, in seven police operations. Of the 58 sizeable police raids in Spain so far this year, 20 have taken place in Andalucia, 14 in the Valencian Community and nine in Catalonia.
“Each plant can go through three harvesting procedures. In the legal market you can find everything you need: lamps, humidifiers, irrigation systems and others, for less than €2,000 you could have everything,” said a representative from the National Police.
“Imagine having 100 in a single room: each plant generates 50 grammes, three harvestings are 150 grammes and 100 plants produce 15,000 grammes. Each gramme is sold for around €7, which makes €105,000 in a year: a profitable business with low risk.”

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