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Spain Concentrates 20% of Illicit Cannabis Sales in the Entire European Union

The consulting firm Cannamonitor reveals Spain’s illicit cannabis market as the largest in the EU, with 2022 sales estimated at €2.14 billion, constituting 20% of the EU’s illegal cannabis transactions. Legal cannabis turnover reached €501 million, with significant growth potential projected, especially in the medical sector. The market for hemp and CBD is also increasing exponentially.



illicit cannabis

The cannabis business continues to increase in Spain, despite the Government’s refusal to regulate its recreational use and the slow progress to allow access to the substance for medicinal use, with a draft Royal Decree in the making that will establish the conditions for its preparation and dispensing to patients.

A complete analysis of the national and European market, prepared by the consulting firm Cannamonitor, shows how consumers and also income from the legal and illegal market are increasing, to the point that the illicit cannabis trade in Spain has become the largest in the European Union.

The report estimates illicit cannabis sales on the black market in Spain at 2.14 billion in 2022, an amount that represents 20% of all illegal sales of this substance in the European Union. The turnover of this illicit sector increases approximately 7% each year.

The consulting firm that prepared the study attributes this factor to the “current situation of impasse” between the prohibition of the substance in Spain and the legalization in other countries, which are beginning to contemplate both medicinal regulation and recreational use. “There is an export economy to the European illicit cannabis market and a large production in Spain that should make us consider what we do with cannabis,” said consultant and political scientist Arnau Valdovinos, author of the study.

According to seizure figures, which have doubled since 2020, the main centers of illegal production are the Andalusian Mediterranean provinces, followed by Alicante, Valencia, Barcelona and Girona. These last two provinces, according to the study, concentrate production for later European distribution.

Read more about the sales of illicit cannabis in Spain and fidn the most important cannabis news of the day with the mobile app.

The rise of legal cannabis

The document has analyzed hundreds of companies in the cannabis sector in Spain and estimates the turnover of the legal sector at 501 million euros in 2022, with a growth of 12% annually, of which 132 million went to taxes and contributions. The document estimates that today cannabis generates almost 7,000 jobs in Spain.

A good part of this turnover (383 million euros) comes from grow shops, stores that sell cannabis seeds and products for consumption and cultivation. The medical cannabis market, however, is identified as one with the greatest potential: it is made up of some 60 companies, created mostly during the last five years and with investments worth 115 million euros.

“The creation of legal cannabis companies boomed before and during the pandemic,” the report notes. In the last five years, around thirty medicinal cannabis societies have been created in Spain. Foreign investment has provided 54% of the financing of these companies in Spain.

The income of these medicinal cannabis companies, from exports, barely amounts to 28 million euros. The figure, however, is double that of 2021 and triple that of 2020. The study raises the income of these companies to 335 million in 2030 if the regulation of medicinal cannabis prepared by the Government and the Ministry of Health is successful. Health, a legislative change that 90% of the population supports.

The market for hemp and CBD, non-psychoactive components of cannabis, is also increasing exponentially and generated 81 million euros in 2022 through the sale of these products in pharmacies, specialized stores and on the internet. The annual growth of this sector is greater than 35%, although the study considers that the figure could be even higher if it were not for “the lack of regulatory harmonization” with neighboring countries regarding these products.

Daily users of legal and illicit cannabis increase

Not only does the turnover of the legal and illicit cannabis market increase. Daily cannabis users are also growing, having doubled over the last 20 years to 882,000 consumers, although this figure must be taken into account that the population has increased by 8.5 million inhabitants.

The age group in which consumption increases the most is those over 35 years of age, while younger users have maintained similar levels of consumption throughout this period. “The profile of the habitual cannabis consumer in Spain has aged,” said Valdovinos. “20 years ago, mostly young people smoked cannabis and now it is much more distributed generationally.”

Valdovinos considers that these figures show that the greater ease of acquiring the substance has not translated into an increase in youth consumption. Nor has the average age of initiation of consumption changed since 1995.

The report also showed that there are more and more consumers who buy their cannabis in cannabis clubs and points out that there are between 1,000 and 2,000 stores of this type in Spain. Cannabis smokers’ associations have half a million members spread throughout the country, 40% of which are in Barcelona.

Finally, the report points out the increase in the potency of cannabis, which has tripled since 2003. Its price has also grown, which has doubled over the last 20 years.


(Featured image by MurrrPhoto via Pixabay)

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Arturo Garcia started out as a political writer for a local newspaper in Peru, before covering big-league sports for national broadsheets. Eventually he began writing about innovative tech and business trends, which let him travel all over North and South America. Currently he is exploring the world of Bitcoin and cannabis, two hot commodities which he believes are poised to change history.