Albania plans on legalizing the cultivation of cannabis for industrial and medical purposes, Baltic Insights reports. The government says it wants to dedicate 150 hectares to cannabis cultivation and will allow companies with experience in the European Union market to apply for licenses in 2023.
Only companies with a capitalization of 100 million leks (8 million euros) or more will be considered for licenses, the report says.
Albania joins roughly 30 other countries in allowing some form of medical cannabis but the move is more controversial in the country as it traditionally has been a hotbed of illegal cannabis cultivation. Forty percent of Albanians in prison were convicted of some sort of drug crime, the Insight notes.
Enkelejd Alibeaj, an opposition MP, said the announcement is “madness” considering the country’s history of drug production.
“Edi Rama is the only Prime Minister in the EU whose former Interior Minister is in prison exactly due to connections with drug traffickers.” — Alibeaj on Facebook
The minister of interior, Saimir Tahiri, was convicted of misuse of power but not international drug trafficking after Italian authorities arrested some of his associates, the report says.
After the fall of communism in Russia, Albania became a cannabis production hub. Lazarat village would become known as “the European capital of cannabis growing.” It took a military-style crackdown to eventually suppress cannabis production there; however, cannabis cultivation remained an issue even after the action, the report says.
“Everybody knows that in a country where criminality and corruption are very high, keeping such activity under control is next to impossible,” Alibeaj said.
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