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Originally published March 3 2012

Spanish town decides to grow marijuana to generate much-needed revenue

by Ethan A. Huff, staff writer

(NaturalNews) With a national unemployment rate that now hovers around 23 percent, the European country of Spain is in dire straits economically. But one local town, Rasquera, population 900, has come up with a plan that will not only save itself from economic ruin, but also pay off the more than $1.7 million worth of debt it has accrued -- the town is going to grow marijuana for private cannabis clubs on city property.

Unlike in the U.S., personal marijuana use is legal in Spain, which means growing marijuana under dubious Spanish law is also technically legal. And during a recent town hall meeting, Rasquera's Mayor Bernat Pellisa gained consensus to partner with the Barcelona Personal Use Cannabis Association (ABCDA), a 5,000-member private cannabis club, to grow marijuana and distribute it from a plot of land next to city hall.

Similar to how cow share arrangements operate in many U.S. states where raw milk is illegal for direct sale, private marijuana buying clubs like ABCDA can legally have marijuana grown for their own personal use by investing in property and paying others to farm, harvest, and distribute it. And in the case of Rasquera, ABCDA has invested roughly $40,000 to have marijuana planted on a roughly 17-acre plot of land, after which the group will pay the town more than $850,000 every year for the supply.

"The produce will only go to members of the association and it won't all be cannabis," said Pellisa in defense of the initiative, which he says will produce 40 new jobs and provide a steady supply of income for the town to survive the ongoing economic crisis. "There will be crop rotation with cereal and sugar beet. We demand our own sovereignty on this."

Since the announcement, another private cannabis club with 7,000 members has reportedly contacted Rasquera officials to set up their own growing arrangement as well. And despite opposition from some who still view marijuana through the eyes of government bureaucrats who consider it to be an unsafe "drug," the private cannabis clubs, Mayor Pellisa, and others recognize that marijuana can be used safely, and that growing it can contribute tremendously to the local economy.

"Cannabis use is an established and increasingly accepted reality in our society," said Martin Barriuso from the Basque Cannabis Federation to the U.K.'s Guardian. "Instead of turning our backs on this reality we think the reasonable thing to do is to find a way to regulate it, encouraging responsible use and making it difficult for adolescents to obtain."

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