Police raid Europe’s ‘biggest cannabis farm’ in Spain worth £83m

Police said it was the ‘largest in Europe' (Spanish Guardia Civil/AFP via Ge)
Police said it was the ‘largest in Europe' (Spanish Guardia Civil/AFP via Ge)

Spanish police have raided Europe’s largest cannabis firm with plants worth up to 100 million Euros (£82.9m).

Police said Wednesday they had destroyed 415,000 hemp plants after the raid on the plantation which spread over 11 fields and a combined area of 166 acres.

The site was located in the rural northern region of Navarre.

Around 50 tonnes of the plants were being dried in a warehouse for processing into cannabidiol (CBD), a non-psychoactive compound that is used to treat ailments such as insomnia.

While the sale and consumption of CBD is legal across Spain and most of Europe, Spain still bans the cultivation of cannabis plants for anything other than industrial uses such as for textiles and seeds.

This means growing hemp to turn into CBD or other derivatives remains a criminal offence.

Three people were arrested as a result of the operation which first began in mid-2021 when police discovered one of the fields.

A hemp dryer is seen in Navarra, Spain (via REUTERS)
A hemp dryer is seen in Navarra, Spain (via REUTERS)

The Guardia Civil said the plantation owner initially presented the farm as a legal operation to produce industrial cannabis but was later found to be planning to export large quantities to Italy and Switzerland for processing into CBD.

According to polling data released last week, more than half of the European population support legalisation of adult use of cannabis and around 30% of them are interested in purchasing it.

The report - published by cannabis producer Curaleaf International and the London-based consultancy firm - said the data showed Europe is ready to embrace a more liberal approach to cannabis sales.

In Germany, its coalition Government has pledged to allow the “controlled sale of cannabis to adults for recreational purposes in licensed shops”.

But in the UK, cannabis remains illegal and it is classified as a Class B drug.