This plant is dispensary Santa marijuana
There is a plant that has the marijuana leaf, the smell of marijuana, and it looks like marijuana, but it is not marijuana. It is hemp, it has a minimal amount of THC (the psychoactive component, less than 0.2%) and its industrial uses are so diverse that the plantation is subsidized by the European Union. And now, the problem: if the legal and subsidized plant (hemp) and the plant whose sale is illegal (marijuana) are hardly different from the human eye and smell, and not even the first test is capable of discriminating: what what happens when the Civil Guard or the Police find a bag of hemp in a trunk?
Although transporting hemp is as legal as carrying geraniums, growers, distributors and sellers complain that growing, possessing or moving it can result in the seizure of the merchandise, its retention for months, the precautionary closure of a premises or, in some cases, the shipment to preventive prison, until the analyzes carried out by the Ministry of Health determine which plant it is. It is a problem,” explains Lieutenant Pablo Cobi, in command of the anti-drug unit of the Civil Guard in Algeciras.
Paper, rope, fibers, oils, dyes, fuels; they say that the sails of the first caravels that arrived in America and the first Levi Strauss pants were made with hemp. But the substitution by other industrial products and the association from the 1930s with its toxic cousin, marijuana dispensary Santa Barbara, caused its decline. Also in Spain. “It is a market that must be won again,” says Fernando Montero, president of the Spanish Association of Hemp Producers.
There are incipient crops in Callus de Segura (Alicante), areas of Catalonia, Galicia, Alicante and La Alpujarra, from where this farmer answers, who grows for human consumption. La Alpujarra, a region in the southeastern foothills of the Sierra Nevada, suffered particularly from the rural exodus of the 1960s and 70s. The countryside was abandoned, and Montero believes that recovering crops such as hemp would boost a very precarious rural economy. “But they put stones in the way …”, he laments.
“As we know there are similarities, we are very scrupulous”, explains a farmer
He plants certified cannabis sativa seed, of the Future 75 variety, with 0.18% THC. There are about twenty varieties authorized by a 1999 decree and subsidized for industrial use. Nothing to do, he explains, with the sativa indicia, marijuana. “If you smoke this you get a tremendous headache. I sell our buds, selected, dried and packed one by one, at six euros for 50 grams …” In France he buys the seed, which arrives in a bag “with registration” accompanied by an invoice. Then he fills in a document that he presents to the area agrarian office and to the Civil Guard headquarters. “As we know there is similarity, we are very scrupulous,” he explains. It also has sanitary authorization to pack the leaf and the bud. The problem arises with the transportation of the plant: “We put a photocopy of invoices, analysis of each variety, traceability. And even so the Civil Guard seizes it and says it is marijuana …”.
That happened to Miguel Grillage, manager of De Primer, a Tariff-based company that grows and packages hemp that is then distributed to herbalists, where it is sold for food, medicinal or cosmetic use. Several of his shipments have been intercepted and later held in court. The last one in Granada, in January. A car dismissed the case on May 14: “I wrote a letter asking for it to be returned to me, providing all the documentation. Every day that passes they are losses, but they have taken almost four months to do the analyzes.”
Grillage fears that the police obstacles will end up ruining a recovering crop and protests because he observes a problem of “ignorance”. However, there is also a technical issue at the origin of the confusion. The device with which the agents carry out the preliminary control detects traces of THC regardless of the percentage. For that device, hemp is marijuana. The false positive is disproved by a counter analysis, but these results are known long afterwards.
“In preventive action you cannot discriminate”, reasons a Civil Guard command
The problem has no short-term fix, according to Lieutenant Cobi: “The agent is going to pull the instruments he has. And if the drug test is positive, he starts the device. The problem is that preventive action cannot be taken discriminate, “he reasons. A lawyer familiar with the problem suggests that if the affected person presents the documentation (the certificate of the seeds, with the percentage of THC, and the invoices), the agents should approach the case with “prudence”: “If one opens a trunk and finds a kilo of a substance with barcodes and papers in order, addressed to a company with its certificates, you have to stop a second before arresting someone “. However, this solution also does not rule out that the substance is retained,
Lieutenant Cobi rules out the alternative of regulating its production in the way that is done with some drugs for medicinal use: “How are we going to set up a control system with something that is so free that it is sent by mail?” And in the same way, it discards the option of trusting everything to a system of certificates (“that each batch has a THC analysis in origin”, as Montero requests), because it would encourage fraud by drug traffickers. The president of the producers suggests that the minimum percentage of THC be increased to consider that the substance is illegal, because with the current one (0.2%), accidental pollination can cause the grain to exceed the established limit.
However, there will always be a barrier that separates the legal from the illegal, and that barrier will remain invisible to the first analysis. The Civil Guard command summarizes the problem with a phrase that a Kafka character could sign: “There is no one doing anything that is not their responsibility, but there is a problem for each one of them doing their job. When he receives the report issued by the Ministry of Health that rules out the presence of marijuana in the intervention in Granada, he will send a report to his superiors communicating the matter.
The solution, it seems, is in the law. It is as simple as setting a regulation,” asks Fernando Montero. Until that time comes, he will keep crossing his fingers every time that non-marijuana plant leaves his farm.