A Spanish town goes to pot - Macleans.ca
 

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.”


 

A Spanish town goes to pot

  1. Brilliant! And the exact opposite direction the foolish government of Canada is moving toward.

  2. I understand that many small towns and villages in BC have pot as their largest industry.  I don’t know how hard they try to hide it, but surely the RCMP out there are turning a blind eye to what is surely an economic force.  One of these days, maybe even before I die, Canada will let this lovely leaf come out from the underground.  It was being discussed when I was a kid in the late Sixties, and continues all these years later.  I’m an optimist.

  3. Legalize it, damn it.

  4. Marijuana should be legalized – I am all for individuals being able to make their own choices. However, the economic argument for marijuana legalization is a poor one, and a rather short-sighted one. 

    The first argument I always hear is “we can tax it!” Well yeah, but the government can tax whatever the hell it wants to. The primary justification for taxing something is that it possesses negative externalities. So if pot is indeed completely harmless, there is little more rationale for taxing it than there is for say, carrots. 

    Of course the reality is that there are some negative externalities to marijuana use. Legalization means cheaper marijuana and more widespread use. Heavy marijuana use does have pretty clear negative impacts on IQ and short-term memory. In practice, that is going to contribute to less effective and productive workers, and a cost to GDP that would far outweigh any sort of marijuana-led boom (you have to remember that we are talking about a boom in a sector that, IF it reached the level of say, breweries, would comprise maybe 1% of GDP).

    And no doubt there might be tourism benefits, but you can bet dollars to donuts that additional border hassles by the US will more than make up for any benefits. It is a classic case of people seeing the more visible benefits (tax revenues, tourism, and activity from greater marijuana sales) while ignoring the larger, less visible costs (lower productivity and border hassles).