So two weeks ago I woke up to Spanish drug police banging on our door and raiding the (what we thought was legal) marijuana seed farm my husband was growing in the yard. Yep, that happened.
But let me go back a bit …
I set up the framework for this blog several weeks ago, just before the sh*tstorm hit. I’ve been blogging since 2002, but I had grown out of many of those blogs, and it was time to start something new.
That 2002 blog makes me cringe – I was 26, single, living in NYC, and convinced I was Carrie Bradshaw, only with a substandard shoe wardrobe. Later I would start blogs about being married, about trying to have a kid, about my (in)fertility journey, about my stillborn son, about eventually having a daughter, about my post-partum depression, a lot of healing and messiness.
I have another blog where I write about my Big Three passions – music, history, and travel. But all the personal stuff didn’t seem to fit there, and I wanted to find a new home for the new part of our journey now that my depression is managed, and the word is looking bright and sunny again.
So now let me explain now how we came to be living on a marijuana seed farm in Andalucia.
We had had five years with a lot of crap. In 2010 we had a stillborn son. Then another loss in 2011. Followed by infertility, drugs, treatments, turkey basters, etc etc. Finally at the very end of 2012 we get pregnant (well, I did, but that’s a technicality) and we have the Amazing Hannah Zen in August 2013.
I had serious postpartum depression, which probably likely started in 2010 but was never fully managed. So there were more trips to the doctor, more meds.
Then in the summer of 2014 we went through a really nasty bout with a neighbor where an assessor realized that our deck, which we hadn’t changed since we bought the house, was on his property. That happened to be the part of the deck where we had built a gorgeous 2 story cat shelter (with all of our pent up parenting energy and finances that had nowhere to go from 2010-2013) where we fostered cats through the humane league. The shelter had to be torn down, and the cats had to be rehomed. It left us heartbroken and exhausted.
October of 2014 brought another health issue for me when I had a perirectal abscess, which is pretty much the grossest kind of abscess you can get, and I had a very painful surgery to drain it.
So when, that autumn, hubby’s really good friend from Amsterdam, who owned a marijuana seed company based in the Netherlands, asked us if we wanted to move to Spain for a while, we jumped at the chance. He was starting a big seed farm in Spain where it was legal, and hubby would grow the plants for him. In return, he would pay for all of our living expenses in Spain. We would be like modern day tenant farmers.
Hubby had grown in California in a closet, just 4 or 5 plants at a time, and so he thought this would be a good opportunity for him to learn more about growing, and get some good experience dealing with the plants he loves. No, but he really loves growing the plants. He loves growing them more than smoking.
Oh, and speaking of smoking, I don’t. Well, I have like 3 times in my life, but I don’t like it. Hubby has, but not much. He’s really just into the beauty of the plant. So we’re not like stoner potheads.
No, but really, we aren’t. We’re more just free spirits who are up for adventure and want to take the road less traveled.
We had a group of lawyers in Barcelona do a due diligence report, and it was all deemed kosher. The Amsterdam guy had lawyers in Spain as well who were setting up the company, and everything was legit. We didn’t go into it blindly. We had a child to consider, and we weren’t going to do anything that could endanger her. Three different lawyers told us it was okay.
In January 2015 I was at a work conference in Chicago and fell down a flight of icy steps at my hotel, and landed on my shoulder, resulting in a broken right humerus (shoulder). I had a surgery for it, and the damn thing splintered when they were putting the final pin in. The final result? I’m walking around with a bum shoulder that needs a replacement, but until I’m old enough to have a replacement I muddle through, unable to lift my arm above my chest.
Which, you know, was great with an 18 month old and all.
So that was the final straw for me. I quit my job, where I’d been for 10 years, and we move to Andalucia. Hubby falls in love with Spain, and with our town, and we both start learning Spanish. Hannah is thriving in the Spanish sun, and she’s still young enough so that we haven’t uprooted her from a school or anything like that. She and I spend all day together playing in the pool, and I’m starting to heal in the sun. Hubby is growing the plants, and I am podcasting and writing like crazy.
It’s all good. It’s all legit. For 18 months it’s totally fine. Our landlady knows about it, and her son is on the police force. Surely if it was illegal, she would have stopped it. Our real estate agent knew about it because hubby specifically asked for a place where he could grow.
Then it turned out to not be okay.
Given the fact that there’s an ongoing investigation, I don’t really want to say too much about it, but hubby spent one night in jail, and instead of our plan to go back home, his lawyer has told us that he likely won’t have a trial until 2018. The court has his passport, so he can’t leave until then.
I still have my passport, but I can’t leave until I give my statement to the court, which won’t be for a few more months.
Well, that escalated quickly.
Now we are sort of trapped in Spain (which could be worse), and there’s a chance that hubby could actually go to jail for this (worse). I’m not in any sort of trouble because I wasn’t growing the plants (my talent is killing healthy plants. You don’t want me anywhere near something green that you want to survive). But of course I’m not going to leave when we have a 3 year old daughter who needs her parents to be together. As long as I can stay and keep the family together, I will.
So now this bizarre new phase of life is beginning.
– We love our rental house here and feel very much at home.
– We are financially okay.
– The company in Amsterdam is paying for the legal fees, and we found an experienced lawyer who is an expert in cannabis law.
– The drug police were super nice. I’ll write about it sometime. It was seriously like a party.
– Hannah has no idea there’s anything amiss. Hubby spent a night in jail, but they all pretended like he was just hanging out with his buddies for the night, so she didn’t realize there was anything wrong.
– Don’t grow pot in Spain.
No, I’m serious. Just don’t do it. I mean, a plant or two, fine. But ignore these reports of laws that say that it’s legal to have legit seed companies. Every province has their own rules, similar to states in the US, and what our lawyers, who were based in Barcelona, told us isn’t necessarily true in our province of Malaga.
– If you are going to grow pot in Spain, make sure you have every freaking I dotted, and every T crossed.
– But really, just don’t grow pot in Spain beyond a plant or two for your own personal consumption.
– Just because you’ve done your due diligence doesn’t actually mean anything if the other party hasn’t set everything up properly. Don’t trust someone to set something up when it’s your freedom that could be at risk. If you’re working with someone else, you’d better make damn sure they value your freedom as much as you do.
– Don’t grow pot in Spain.
We had been planning to go home soon, chalking all of this up to an adventure. But now we’re here until 2018, at least. I am not even thinking about what could happen if the worst happened (the penalty if he’s found guilty could be around 3 years in prison, the lawyer told us).
Leaving the lawyer’s office last week, hubby and I were talking about this bizarre turn that our life has taken. If it wasn’t our lives, it would actually be a damn good sitcom. I mean, what the hell? Two years ago I was the Assistant Director of California’s largest library consortium. Now I’m trapped in Spain having experienced a drug raid in my home. Oh, and my mom was visiting at the time, so, you know, that was great for her.
It’s almost comical, except for the fact that it’s real life.
So that’s the background and context for this blog. It’s not going to be a Pot Blog. Or even a Cannabis Law Case Blog. Nope, this blog is going to be about our life in Spain now that we’re stuck here, and how we are getting on with things despite this crappy reality that is hanging over our heads.
Life doesn’t just stop now while we’re waiting. We have to continue on and keep going, and make things as normal as possible for Hannahbear. We are confident in our lawyer, and we have a lot of people praying for us around the world, so we are trusting that we have done as much as we can.
In the meantime, we explore Spain. Hubby has to report to the court every 2 weeks, but other than that we are free to go anywhere in the country. We live in Southern Spain, so we are looking at spending some time in the North, in Basque Country, as well as a lot of time in Barcelona. Once I give my statement and am free to leave, I will do more travel around Europe, gathering stamps in mine and Hannah’s passports.
And we just keep trusting that we’re going to be okay, and figuring that all of this happened for a reason. We aren’t really sure what the reason is right now, but we trust that there is one, and we’re going to listen for it.