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Albania’s Parliament Approves Medical Cannabis Legalization Amidst Strong Opposition

Legislation sparks debates on regulation and economic prospects amid drug trafficking history.




In the past, marijuana cultivation thrived in Albania. PHOTO COURTESY OF WIKI COMMONS

Albanian Parliament on Friday legalized medical cannabis, despite facing harsh opposition in a country once infamous as a European hub for marijuana trafficking.

The decision, with a vote of 69-23, allows for the controlled growth of cannabis plants, a move that has been fiercely contested by the opposition.

While the approval is groundbreaking, the specific regulations for medical cannabis remain unclear at this point, reports the Washington Post. The government, however, believes that allowing limited cannabis production can significantly boost tax revenue.

In the past, marijuana cultivation thrived in Albania due to the exploitation of weak governance in the post-Communist era, making the country vulnerable to drug trafficking.

Since assuming power in 2013, Prime Minister Edi Rama’s left-wing Socialist Party government has prioritized the eradication of cannabis plants. Over the next two years, they successfully destroyed millions of cannabis plants, valued at approximately $8.5 billion, which accounted for over two-thirds of the country’s annual gross domestic product at that time.

However, this crackdown on cannabis growers was not without challenges. In 2014, a police officer was fatally shot during a crackdown on a southern village, facing automatic weapon and rocket fire from drug growers.


Although Albania remains a major route for trafficking hard drugs, police interventions against isolated cases of cannabis cultivation have decreased compared to a decade ago.



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