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Albania: Legalization Initiative Launched

Bill Weinberg

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Balkan Insight reported Feb. 28 that Koço Kokedhima, an MP with Albania's ruling Socialist Party, has launched a campaign calling for the legal cultivation of cannabis. The country is considered a major supplier for Europe, and last year its police carried out major eradication operations, destroying scores of plantations and arresting dozens. "Albania produces cannabis of high quality, well known in Europe. This could be done under state licenses for the pharmaceutical industry," Kokedhima told the parliament in a discussion on ways to support the country's impoverished rural sector. 

"There is actually production of an important quantity of cannabis in the country," Kokedhima stated rather obviously. "There are billions of dollars out there. This is reality."

Kokedhima's newspaper Shekulli is reporting almost daily on the issue, citing the policies in Colorado and Washington as positive examples. He has not yet introduced any legislation to parliament, apparently waiting to build support for the idea. In the usual paradox, Europe's top cannabis producer, Albania also has the continent's harshest drug laws—tokers have been imprisoned for up to five years for possession of just a few grams of the herb.

But struggling farmers have little choice but to risk it, especially in remote areas with poor infrastructure. The U.N. Office on Crime and Drugs (UNODC) has found that farmers in Albania can sell 1 kilogram of cannabis for a hefty 300 euros. In contrast, growing wheat earns farmers just 200 euros per metric ton (1,000 kilos).

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