By LeeWEpstein

May 13, 2020


Albanian Prime Minister Edi Rama announced last Friday that the government was preparing a draft law to legalize the cultivation of medical cannabis.

At a joint conference with EU ambassador Luigi Soreca, Rama said the government had been working with foreign and local advisers for a year and that the bill would be made public soon. He also stressed the importance of learning from other countries’ experiences with medical cannabis.

The draft will be available for public debate very soon, as will the draft on tax amnesty, which is ready and is being discussed with several international institutions,” Rama said, stressing the importance of these discussions.

Following several media requests referring to Rama’s statement, the EU delegation in Albania intervened to clarify that it had not been involved

in the preparation, drafting, or consultation of draft reports concerning plans for the cultivation and legalization of cannabis for medical purposes in Albania.
In addition, the Prime Minister’s announcement prompted reactions from the leader of the opposition LSI party, Monika Kryemadhi, who congratulated the EU delegation for clarifying its offhandedness in Rama’s “disinformation campaign” and the misuse of the EU’s image for purposes related to the electoral process.

A country already specialised in cannabis

Currently, the possession of cannabis, excluding quantities for personal use, cultivation and transport is illegal in Albania, even for medical use. Nevertheless, the country is a major transit point for drugs in Europe.

In 2014, police raided and destroyed the main cannabis plantations in the city of Lazarat, once considered the drug capital of Europe. According to government data, the raid destroyed 102 tons of cannabis and 530,000 cannabis plants with an estimated market value of €6.4 billion, or more than 60% of GDP. In 2016, almost 800 000 were destroyed. In 2018, the Italian Guardia di Finanza presented a report removing Albania from the cannabis cultivation map.

The decline in plantings was confirmed, with only 27 out of 88 plantations in 2017 identified. There has also been a significant drop in the amount of cannabis confiscated in Italy, with almost 81% in one year,” explained Brigadier General Giuseppe Arbore. during the conference.

However, a recent report from the Belgrade Centre for Security Policy concludes that the recent coronavirus crisis is expected to lead to an increase in cannabis cultivation in Albania. 613 kg of cannabis was also seized in the north of the country at the start of the pandemic.

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