An untrained nose would never sniff anything afoot in Pol and Mónica’s sunny Barcelona apartment. But behind closed doors, this couple has taken the COVID curse and turned their lives right side up — with cannabis.
Mónica, 34, worked at a popular French restaurant and her partner Pol, 32, was a lighting technician working in events. Once the stark reality of COVID hit, and they both realized that they were out of jobs for the foreseeable future, they turned one of their hobbies into a full-time gig. This unassuming couple of small-scale cannabis cultivators invited me to see their home operation.
A Secret Second Bedroom
The tour of their apartment takes me through all the standard bits, and then Mónica stops at a white wooden door. Beaming, she swings it open. “Ta-da! A lot of Barcelona apartments have these. They advertise them as a second bedroom but really you can’t fit much more than a single bed in here. We had been using it for storage.”
Inside, there isn’t really much to see except a big black tent accompanied by a faint hum, and an even fainter aroma. She unzips the tent and proudly exposes a dense canopy of plants. “Because of how efficient these lights are, it’s only a small increase on our light bill,” Pol explains. “We had to do a bit of research and tweak the setup as we went, but I think we’ve found the perfect balance.
“We had been saving to go traveling in June, so we took all of that money and we invested in all the equipment instead. Within three months, we had made our money back.”
From Terrace to Closet
Pol and Mónica’s apartment is just high enough above the neighboring buildings that there is no one looking down on their large, south-facing terrace. They had been growing autoflowering strains out there for years, and were able to apply that knowledge to their indoor setup.
After the first COVID lockdown hit in mid-March, almost all of the cannabis clubs in Barcelona were shut down. “The supply was drying up, and suddenly people we hadn’t spoken to in months were hitting us up to see if we had anything to get rid of,” laughs Mónica. “At the time, we were hoarding all the weed we had because we didn’t know how long the lockdown would last. First we thought about just stuffing the terrace with plants but the tent seemed more practical.”
The couple says it didn’t take long for them to decide that starting an indoor grow operation was the best way for them to stay afloat until the economy opens up again. They now have a steady stream of friends as regular customers, and also supply a local weed association.
As for what the future holds? The restaurant Mónica was working at still hasn’t reopened, and the all annual events that Pol worked for are up in the air. “We’re still waiting to see what happens,” Pol says. “It’s not the best moment for making plans. But for now we’re working on saving up money, and getting better at what we do.”