MADRID- In an operation to remove what police said was Europe’s largest cannabis plantation, Spanish officials destroyed 415,000 hemp plants valued up to 100 million euros ($108 million).
Around 50 tonnes of the plants were being dried in a warehouse for the production of cannabidiol (CBD), a non-psychoactive chemical that is increasingly being used to treat anxiety, sleeplessness, and other diseases.
The plantation was stretched across 11 fields with a combined area of 67 hectares (166 acres) in the rural northern region of Navarre, according to a statement from the Guardia Civil force.
According to the Agriculture Ministry, while CBD sales and use are legal throughout Spain and much of Europe, Spanish law still outlaws the production of cannabis plants for anything other than industrial purposes, such as textiles and seeds.
Growing hemp for the purpose of extracting CBD or other compounds is still illegal.
The operation, which began in mid-2021 when police uncovered one of the fields, resulted in the arrest of three people.
The plantation owner portrayed the farm as a lawful enterprise to cultivate industrial cannabis, but was later discovered to be planning to export huge quantities to Italy and Switzerland for processing into CBD, according to the Guardia Civil.
Image: Spanish Police Handout