Albanian lawmakers approved a bill to legalize cannabis for medical purposes on Friday. The country’s parliament “passed 69 to 23 to allow for the limited and controlled growth of cannabis plants, a move that was strongly opposed by opposition parties.” According to Associated Press.
as an AP I got itThe passage of the bill is notable given Albania’s history as “the crossroads of marijuana trafficking in Europe”.
“Albania was once thriving in marijuana cultivation as drug traffickers exploited the lack of strong governance in the post-communist country. The Associated Press reported. Over the next two years, it destroyed millions of cannabis plants with an estimated market value of €7 billion ($8.5 billion), more than two-thirds of the country’s annual gross domestic product at the time. In 2014, a police officer was shot dead during a crackdown using an armored personnel carrier in a southern village. Police came under fire with automatic weapons and rockets from drug cultivators. Albania is still a major route for hard drug trafficking. Police still crack down on isolated incidents of cannabis cultivation, but far less often than they did a decade ago. “
Late last year, a senior Albanian government official was arrested on suspicion of smuggling drugs across the border.
The official, Elisa Ferro, was the IT director of the country’s top intelligence agency at the time of the arrest.
Reported by VICE At the time of the arrest in January:
“Albanian police have announced that Mr. Ferro used an official government identity card as a security official to avoid police checks and searches. During his arrest, Ferro’s reported girlfriend Reke Basha, 30, and a 17-year-old suspect were also detained on drug trafficking charges. Two suspects, who allegedly received drugs on the North Macedonian side of the border, escaped after a lengthy search, according to police.”
Albanian lawmakers launched an initiative last summer to legalize medical cannabis, drawing up a proposal.As high times Reports at the time said the bill contained few details about how new medical cannabis programs would be regulated.
“The purpose of this law is to determine the rules for the cultivation, production and controlled distribution of cannabis plants and their by-products for medical and industrial purposes, through authorized bodies, under the supervision of the National Agency for the control and supervision of the cultivation and processing of cannabis plants for medical and industrial purposes and the production of their by-products,” the bill states.
Little seems to have changed since the bill passed this week.according to Associated Press, “It is not clear how medical marijuana will be regulated,” but “the government believes that permitting limited production of cannabis will increase tax revenue.”
Albanian law enforcement agencies have long tried to thwart the country’s illegal drug trafficking, often cooperating with international police.
In 2017, the Associated Press reported on a “nationwide operation to stop cannabis planting” in Albania.
“3,100 police officers have been deployed across the country, inspecting greenhouses, old army depots, tunnels and abandoned houses where cannabis seeds and small plants may be hidden,” the paper reported at the time, according to the statement. “Last year, authorities destroyed nearly 2.5 million marijuana plants, four times the number the year before. Tons of cannabis were seized from border crossings and ships bound for neighboring Italy and Greece.”