A Spanish town goes to pot

Growing marijuana may help offset Rasquera's crippled economy

A whole town goes to pot

Pete Starman/Getty Images

Once known for pottery and agriculture, the dry and sunny Spanish municipality of Rasquera, in Tarragona, will soon be known for a less noble export: cannabis. On Feb. 29, councillors voted to grow marijuana on city land, a bid to revive the crippled economy. The town of 1,000, facing a ballooning debt, expects to create 40 jobs and raise $1.7 million by ceding seven hectares of city property to medical marijuana and small growers’ associations.

Growing marijuana is legal in Spain—if the drug is for medical or personal use. “This is just like tobacco or alcohol,” José María Insausti, an adviser at city hall, told Maclean’s. “We expect to have a product that’s regulated, controlled, and taxed.” The crop, he insists, will not be sold commercially. In April, townspeople will have their say in a binding referendum on the issue. Insausti is confident the yes side will triumph. “Once you explain what this is about, people get behind it,” he says. “We all know this happens in many places but nobody acknowledges it.”

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