Spanish Police Takes on Largest Hemp Farm in Europe

Stephen Andrews
14 Apr 2022

Spanish authorities have seized and destroyed 415,000 hemp plants worth up to €100 million ($108 million) in an operation to take down what police described on Wednesday, 13 April, to be the largest cannabis farm in Europe. Large quantities of these plants awaited export to other European countries such as Switzerland and Italy, where they would have been processed for CBD.

Spanish police cracked down on the largest hemp plantation in Europe in the north of the country. A plantation in the province of Navarra consisted of eleven fields totaling 67 hectares. Some 415,000 hemp plants were destroyed, and three people were arrested in the aftermath of the operation.

The plantation owner had told authorities that he was engaged in industrial cannabis cultivation, which is permitted under Spanish law. However, the police had serious doubts about this because the plants would go to Switzerland and Italy to be processed into cannabidiol (CBD). Processing hemp plants into CBD is illegal in Spain. 

Consumption and sale of CBD products is legal in Spain and most of Europe, however, Spanish law demands that cultivation of cannabis plants remains only for industrial purposes such as for textiles and seeds. Growing hemp for conversion into CBD or other derivatives amounts to a criminal offense. 

Reports suggest that Spanish authorities began the operation in mid-2021 when one of the fields was discovered. The Guardia Civil, Spain's national gendarmerie force, said the plantation owner initially presented the farm as a legal operation for manufacturing industrial hemp. Still, an investigation showed that large quantities of the plants were supposed to go outside Spain to convert into CBD. 

Officers also discovered a large shed where some of the hemp was drying. A truck bound to Italy was also found containing 23,000 dried hemp plants. More plant material was discovered in storage, too. All plants found have reportedly been destroyed. 

The police have also seized and destroyed all the plants on the plantation. The plants were valued at €30 million, but when processed into CBD, that would have risen to €100 million, the police said. 

Stephen Andrews