Could Catalonia’s growing marijuana market lead to a ‘narco-economy’?

“This will never be Mexico,” concedes a Spanish police source, speaking about the violence linked to the drug trade. But this same officer warns about the dangers of widespread cannabis cultivation in Spain, particularly in Catalonia, the region with the largest seizures of the recreational drug: 12,398 kilograms, followed by Andalusia with 9,565 kilograms and the Valencia region with 4,694 kilograms, according to Interior Ministry figures from 2018.

A 72-page report from the Catalan regional police force, the Mossos d’Esquadra, warns about the risks of the region developing an entrenched “narco-economy” in which individuals who benefit from the system are “voluntarily excluding themselves from the legal framework.” The report also talks about “the creation of a cannabis culture and identity,” citing the Netherlands and Spain’s own southern Campo de Gibraltar area as examples.

The report, which is based on police data as well as Spanish and European studies, categorically asserts that “Catalonia is the epicenter of the illegal marijuana market in Europe.”

Between 2013 and 2017, cannabis plant seizures grew 538% (from 176,165 to 1,124,674 plants), making Spain the top European producer of the drug. In Catalonia, marijuana has long topped the list of drug seizures. In 2019 alone, the Mossos shut down 368 cannabis grow operations. [Read more @ El Pais]