Breaking news: marijuana and sugar-beet scandal in Tarragona!

A Catalonian village plans a co-op marijuana farm,

Reuters, 7 March:

A small town in northeastern Spain believes it has found a novel way to pay of its debt: cultivating cannabis.

Tucked in the hills of one of Spain’s most picturesque regions, the Catalonian village of Rasquera has agreed to rent out land to grow marijuana, an enterprise the local authorities say will allow them to pay off their 1.3 million euro debt in two years.

Local authorities are keeping the location of the site top secret while Spain’s attorney general investigates the legality of the project. The Catalan regional government has also asked the village for further information about the plan.

The scheme is the brainchild of a 5,000-strong Barcelona marijuana users’ associatiom, ABCDA. More on their site here and here in Spanish. ABCDA would run its farm as a nonprofit cooperative.

The new PP government in Madrid is bound hand and foot by Brussels and Berlin to a destructive austerity economic policy and is anxious to score culture-war points with its base as a distraction. So prospects for ABCDA’s bright idea don’t look good in the short run, in spite of the endorsement of the principle by eminent American scholars and divines.

However, ABCDA have made a very clever strategic move by buying the support of a debt-burdened Catalan municipality for an apparently solid and workable project. What is the national government’s plan B for Rasquera’s public finances (see Berlin supra)? Why shouldn’t Catalonia have the right to run a prudent, regulated experiment on drugs policy? What concrete harm would the project do? There are no good BAU answers to these questions.

The possible scandal IMHO is that ABCDA plan to rotate marijuana “ecologically” with grain and beet (remolacha). It’s not clear whether this would be red salad beetroot, cattle food or – my worry – sugar beet. The last would be (a) adding to the over-production of a dangerous addictive drug; (b) exploiting an appalling protectionist Common Agricultural Policy boondoggle that destroys the livelihoods of poor Caribbean sugar-cane growers. (I know that US sugar protectionism is just as bad, only smaller).

The RBC demands answers, or at least a sweetener.

Author: James Wimberley

James Wimberley (b. 1946, an Englishman raised in the Channel Islands. three adult children) is a former career international bureaucrat with the Council of Europe in Strasbourg. His main achievements there were the Lisbon Convention on recognition of qualifications and the Kosovo law on school education. He retired in 2006 to a little white house in Andalucia, His first wife Patricia Morris died in 2009 after a long illness. He remarried in 2011. to the former Brazilian TV actress Lu Mendonça. The cat overlords are now three. I suppose I've been invited to join real scholars on the list because my skills, acquired in a decade of technical assistance work in eastern Europe, include being able to ask faux-naïf questions like the exotic Persians and Chinese of eighteenth-century philosophical fiction. So I'm quite comfortable in the role of country-cousin blogger with a European perspective. The other specialised skill I learnt was making toasts with a moral in the course of drunken Caucasian banquets. I'm open to expenses-paid offers to retell Noah the great Armenian and Columbus, the orange, and university reform in Georgia. James Wimberley's occasional publications on the web

3 thoughts on “Breaking news: marijuana and sugar-beet scandal in Tarragona!”

  1. One hopes that ABCDA’s or the municipalities’ projected revenue figures are not as inflated as those that have been used in California. And I suppose one argument for not allowing the local experiment is that it won’t remain local (and I don’t suppose they hope it will remain local): people from all over Spain and southwest France could come to buy. So the harm, if any, risks spreading.

    That said, I’d like to see it go ahead, even though I won’t be traveling to Spain to take advantage of it (I expect I can find local supply more cheaply in Toronto.)

    What’s a ‘BAU answer’?

  2. On spread: if ABCDA are serious about the cooperative nature of the project, supplies could be provided by subscription to members only. There need not be any store in Rasquera, and ABCDA could offer tight monitoring if there’s a deal going with the authorities. You can’t make such a scheme leak-proof at the street level, but you don’t have to: why travel to Barcelona to buy an ounce off an ABCDA member? Remember that you would also be substantially reducing the overall size of the Barcelona street market, and making quality and strength of the product more predictable and I assume safer.

Comments are closed.