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Power Outages In Spain Supports Cannabis Regulation, Not Prohibition

Granada Spain

Earlier this month power outages were reported in parts of Spain, including in the Spanish city of Granada. While the outages are not necessarily a new thing in Spain, they are reportedly increasing in frequency and severity in multiple parts of the European nation.

Endesa, which is Spain’s largest electric company, attributes the reported increase in outages to unregulated cannabis cultivation operations, and that one-third of the electricity consumed in Granada’s northern district last year was reportedly connected to such operations.

The true cause of the power outages is open for debate. Many authorities are echoing what Endesa is claiming, and yet many residents are pointing to what they claim is a failing electrical grid. Unregulated cannabis operations may be contributing to the problem, however, they may also only play a small role in what seems to be an increasing issue for Spain.

Regardless, a point that seems to be lost in the larger discussion is that Spain’s approach to cannabis is completely outdated and in desperate need of sensible modernization. Cannabis is largely tolerated in Spain, however, legalization is not the law of the land.

Cannabis clubs are very common in parts of Spain, particularly in Barcelona, and all of the cannabis that supplies those clubs comes from unregulated sources. It’s a complete free-for-all, and as such, no one truly knows how much cannabis is being cultivated and sold in Spain every year.

What we do know is that the current approach to cannabis policy in Spain is insufficient, to put it lightly. Licensing and regulating cannabis cultivation would not guarantee that Spain’s power outages would be resolved, however, it would give lawmakers, regulators, and electricity providers something to work with.

The only way to properly address Spain’s unregulated cannabis cultivation energy consumption concerns is to transition the unregulated market to a regulated one in which cannabis is cultivated in more sustainable ways, and in a manner that balances the cannabis industry’s energy needs with the rest of society’s.

In regulated jurisdictions, many cannabis cultivators now rely entirely on the sun to grow their crops, or they only use artificial lighting to supplement sunlight. The cannabis is cultivated in state-of-the-art greenhouses that easily regulate temperature and airflow. As such, they consume very little energy.

Compare that to illegal cultivation operations that are almost always reliant solely on artificial lighting and use a significant amount of energy because they are located out of sight in an enclosed facility to avoid detection. ‘The win’ would be if consumers in Spain made their purchases from the former, not the latter.

That only happens if/when lawmakers in Spain reform the nation’s laws to permit legal cannabis cultivation for adult-use purposes and permit those cultivators’ crops to be sold at regulated outlets. Regulations have to be sensible to ensure that prices for legal products are competitive with unregulated products, otherwise, the unregulated market will continue to thrive in Spain.