News, Politics

Albania is Poised to Legalize Cannabis to Help Crush the Illicit Drug Trade

July 24, 2020 11:36 am ET
Albania is Poised to Legalize Cannabis to Help Crush the Illicit Drug Trade

The cultivation and sale of cannabis are becoming legalized in more and more places across the United States. As of 2020, cannabis is fully legal in eleven states, legal for medical use in 22 states, and legal for medical use with limited THC content in 14 states. In only three states—Idaho, Nebraska, and South Dakota—is cannabis still fully illegal. And even in Nebraska, cannabis has been decriminalized. It seems only a matter of time before we see full legality in this country. But the United States is not the only nation in the process of overhauling its cannabis regulations. Malawi and other African countries have legalized, with a view to boosting their struggling economies. Australia has mirrored the US strategy of keeping cannabis illegal at the federal level while allowing its territories to legalize at their discretion. Italy has passed legislation allowing citizens to grow cannabis for their own personal use. And in Asia, where cannabis laws have historically been strict, Thailand was among the first to adopt a medical cannabis policy. Now the nation of Albania is expected to become the next to pass legislation that will make cannabis legal.

A History of Cannabis in Albania

Legalization is a big step for Albania. For the past six years, the nation has been struggling to manage an illicit cannabis trade. In Lazarat, a region that borders Greece, massive amounts of cannabis had been cultivated and sold on an industrial scale for more than ten years. It wasn’t until the Socialist party came to power in 2013 that the government began to bring the illegal cannabis trade under some semblance of control.

In June of 2014, a massive police raid in Lazarat was able to dismantle the illegal cannabis trade in that area. But Albania’s struggles with illegally grown and marketed cannabis were far from over. Over the next two years, cultivation of the restricted crop spread across the country raising doubts in the mind of the European Union that the Albanian government had the power to fight organized crime within its borders.

Why Legalize?

As in any other country or region that is pursuing legalization, Albania has numerous reasons for favoring cannabis legalization. First and foremost is the potential of cannabis to be used medicinally. Albanian citizens will certainly stand to benefit from having cannabis made available to them, especially as more research is conducted and we learn more about the potential benefits of medical cannabis and what conditions it’s able to treat effectively.

The Albanian government is particularly interested in legalization as a means of stimulating the economy. Rather than spending money trying to control an illegal drug trade, they see the sense in legalizing cannabis, fostering a new industry, and using the proceeds from the sale of the substance to bring in more money. 

Albanian politicians are particularly interested in the prospect of creating jobs and stimulating the economy at this particular time because the country will be holding a parliamentary election next year. For those hoping to be re-elected to office, the legalization of cannabis and the effects it will surely have on the country’s economy and employment rate will be powerful achievements they can point to as they campaign.

Meanwhile, as so many countries and regions already have, Albania is sure to see massive benefits from its new medical cannabis legalization. Those suffering from chronic health conditions will see their suffering alleviated thanks to the potential of exciting new treatments, and the Albanian economy and job market will receive a much-needed boost from the introduction of a new industry.

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