Albania Legalizes Medicinal Cannabis

Medical cannabis flower Albania
Photo: Shutterstock

Drug traffickers previously exploited the lack of strong governance in Albania, allowing a marijuana business to flourish illegally

The Albanian Parliament on Friday legalized cannabis for medical purposes in a country once known as a European crossroads for marijuana trafficking.

The Parliament voted 69-23 to allow limited and controlled growth of cannabis plants, a move harshly contested by the opposition.

It was not clear how the medical cannabis will be regulated. The government believes that allowing limited production of cannabis can boost tax revenue.

Marijuana growing flourished in Albania in the past as drug traffickers exploited a lack of strong governance in the post-Communist country.

After coming to power in 2013, the left-wing Socialist Party government of Prime Minister Edi Rama set destroying cannabis plants as a main target.

Over the next two years it destroyed millions of cannabis plants with an estimated market value of $8.5 billion, more than two-thirds of the country’s annual gross domestic product at that time.

In 2014, a police officer was fatally shot during a crackdown on a southern village using armored personnel carriers. Police came under automatic weapon and rocket fire from drug growers.

Albania is still a main route for trafficking hard drugs. Police still crack down on isolated cases of cannabis growing, but much less often than a decade ago.