A NIJAR man received a three-year prison term and must pay a €1.9 million fine for growing marijuana hemp.
Police found almost 6,000 of the plants in a Los Vergeles greenhouse belonging to a grower who until 2019 had cultivated courgettes, peppers and watermelons.
The sentence is a first as the law increasingly pursues growers who cultivate hemp, ostensibly for industrial uses but in reality destined for the marijuana trade.
The seeds used were certified for legal use to grow plants containing less than 0.2 per cent THC, the drug’s active ingredient.
Nevertheless, as the Almeria Criminal Court judge pointed out, the legality of the seeds was not the sole requirement: “The one question in dispute centres on how the defendant intended to use the hemp plants.”
The Guardia Civils’ criminal investigation officers, the Policia Judicial, found the plants hung up to dry, while their buds had been removed and packed into two bags hidden in a caravan skylight.
Analysis also revealed that the plants contained between 2 and 3 per cent THC, well above the limit for hemp.