No security risk from legal cannabis cultivation in Albania, says Deputy Interior Minister – Exit
Growing medical cannabis legally in Albania poses no security risk as the government will license, supervise and control the sector, according to Deputy Interior Minister Julian Hodaj.
The Albanian government recently announced that it will legalize cannabis for medical purposes, paving the way for the creation of a medical cannabis industry, including its cultivation, in Albania.
“These are controlled areas and security measures. Not everyone can plant it. It will not be planted everywhere in Albania. There will be increased security measures on these planted areas,” he said.
“There is no problem, we are talking about controlled cultivation, there will be licenses for certain entities and not everyone will be able to have a license,” Hodaj added.
The Minister added that those who engage in such activities will be controlled, supervised and must be credible. He said there would also be a high degree of control over who accesses the growing areas and surrounding territory, as well as periodic checks by the police.
Concerns have been raised, mainly by the opposition, that legalizing cannabis cultivation could be problematic given Albania’s struggles against illegal cultivation and export of the drug.
Various areas of the country, such as near the Vjosa River in the south and around the Gashi River in the north, are known to be cultivation areas.
In the latest report published by the United Nations, Albania ranked among the top countries in Europe for the illegal cultivation and distribution of cannabis. It is also a transit country for various other drugs such as heroin and cocaine.
UNDOC reports Albania sixth in the world for cultivation and sale of cannabis
The US State Departments 2022 Narcotics Trafficking Report clearly indicates that Albania remains a source country for narcotics and a base for organized crime groups.
A report by the Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs examines a range of countries in the context of drug trafficking and money laundering.
With regard to drugs, the report states that “Albania is a source country for cannabis and a home base for organized criminal groups that transport illicit drugs from source countries to European markets”. This includes sending Albanian cannabis to Turkey, which is exchanged for cocaine and heroin which Albanian gangs then smuggle into Europe.
United States Department of State: Albania Home Base for Organized Crime in Narcotics Trafficking
However, Hodaj said that “in recent years we have shown that the Albanian government has shown that the fight against cannabis is won”.
This is despite the fact that Albania is still considered a source country for cannabis. Also, while the amount of cultivation decreased, much of the operations were simply exported to Europe where Albanian criminals set up cultivation houses and farms in European countries.
Much of the money goes back to Albania and is laundered in business and real estate.
In addition, there are concerns about the ability of the police, authorities and the judiciary to effectively regulate and control the sector.
The recent US State Department report made it clear that corruption is pervasive in all branches of government and institutions, as well as in the police and the judiciary.
US State Department releases scathing report on human rights in Albania