Albania is the seventh leading cultivator of cannabis in the world, according to the World Drug Report 2022, from the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime.
The report looks at the state of drug cultivation in countries worldwide and ranks them from those with a high prevalence to those that do not. The report’s authors looked at indicators such as destruction of plants or fields, seizures, origin reports, and law enforcement authorities’ reports between 2010 and 2020.
Out of 154 countries, Albania came 7th after Morocco, Afghanistan, Spain, Netherlands, Pakistan, and Lebanon. In the Netherlands
Albania came first in the Southeast European region, suggesting it has a significant cannabis cultivation trade, and it is either exported or used internally after Albania came Turkey, Romania, and Bulgaria.
The country is also named for the so-called Balkan route for trafficking heroin which starts in Pakistan and passes through Syria, Turkey, Greece and Albania before continuing to Western European countries.
Last month, a report by the European Centre for Drug Monitoring found that since 2017, Albanian criminal groups have expanded but also become more sophisticated, working with imports and the distribution of cocaine from Latin America into Europe.
“For years, international cocaine importers worked separately from wholesalers and gangs distributing drugs on the streets. However, an Albanian-speaking criminal network abandoned this model and established control over imports and distribution,” the report read.
According to the UN report, the legalisation of cannabis in several countries has accelerated drug use. It also reports an increase in the use of cocaine, synthetic drugs, and shortcomings in drug treatment mechanisms, particularly for women.
The report states that over 284 million people have used drugs globally by 2020, an increase of 26% compared to the year before. Of those, over 11 million inject drugs, half suffering from hepatitis C and 1.4 million with HIV.
Reacting to these findings, UNODC Executive Director Ghada Waly stated: “Numbers for the production and seizure of many illicit drugs are reaching record levels. At the same time, misconceptions about the magnitude of the problem and its damage are depriving people of care and treatment and pushing young people towards harmful behaviours. We need to devote the necessary resources and attention to addressing every aspect of the global drug problem, including providing evidence-based care to all those who need it, and we need to improve the knowledge base of how they relate to illegal drugs with other urgent challenges. Such as conflicts and environmental degradation. ”
In the ranking, Albania managed to beat Kyrgyzstan, Iran, Nepal and India as both origin and departure countries for cannabis. It also beat Spain and the Netherlands in terms of being an origin country.
The Albanian government has long claimed it is winning the war against drug cultivation in the country, but concerns remain that this is not the case. Furthermore, there are increasing reports of Albanian drug traffickers exporting their production to other European countries, for example, setting up grow houses in residential properties in the UK, Germany, Austria, and others.