Albania Prime Minister Edi Rama told reporters on Tuesday that lawmakers plan to “pass the bill in this session of parliament” to legalize medical cannabis in the nation, Reuters reports. Albania is one of Europe’s poorest countries and legalization could help its struggling economy. It’s neighbors, North Macedonia, Italy, and Greece, have each already legalized medical cannabis in some form.
The move comes nearly six years after police in Lazarat ended the town’s decade-and-a-half, industrial scale, cannabis cultivation operation. However, in the two years following the bust, cannabis cultivation spread throughout Albania, which cast doubt on officials’ willingness to crack down on organized crime – a requirement by the European Union, which Albania hopes to join, the report says.
Economic analyst Mentor Nazarko indicated that E.U. countries are “skeptical” of cannabis legalization plans, adding that income from the industry “might be limited but it would help the country to a degree.” Last September, the E.U. approved Epidiolex for two childhood epilepsy conditions marking the first approval by the bloc for a cannabis-based pharmaceutical.
During Tuesday’s online news conference, Rama described the current cannabis situation in the nation as “completely under control.”
In Lazarat, citizens are asking for full criminal amnesty for those convicted of cannabis crimes as part of the reforms; Rama is proposing amnesty only for tax-dodging related to cannabis income.
According to the report, Albania’s parliamentary election will be held next year and cannabis legalization – along with the potential jobs and income – could be a vote-getter for many candidates.
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