The Albanian government has processed its draft law for legalising the production of cannabis for medical and industrial purposes which will now be subject to public consultation, days after the country was ranked seventh globally for illegal cannabis and narcotic activity.
Entitled, ‘control of the cultivation and processing of the cannabis plant and the production of its by-products for medical and industrial purposes’, the law is now available online after being put forward by the Ministry of Health.
“The purpose of this law is to regulate and guarantee the process of control, monitoring of the cultivation, processing of the cannabis plant and the production of its by-products, intended for medical and industrial purposes and their export according to the conditions and rules of this law and in implementation of the classification of the by-products of the cannabis plant,” the preamble reads.
Licenses for producing cannabis will be granted for 15 years with the right of renewal. Grow areas can be in greenhouses or other covered areas over five to 10 hectares, not exceeding 150 hectares. country-wide.
It also foresees the creation of the Cannabis Plant Processing Agency which will monitor the process, while permits will be issued by the Council of Ministers.
Any company wishing to apply for a permit must have an experience that is relevant to the sector, a capital of 10 million lek (EUR 84,000), 15 employees and must pay a fee of 1.5% of the annual company turnover.
Advertising production is illegal and punishable with a fine of up to EUR 42,000. Other punishable offences include delays in delivering production, making incorrect statements or declarations, or exceeding the allotted growing area.
After public consultation, the draft will be forwarded to parliament for discussion and voting.
Earlier this week, Albania was ranked seventh globally for the cultivation and distribution of cannabis by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime.
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.
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.
Enkelejd Alibeaj, an MP who leads one of the two opposition groups, called the initiative “madness” which, according to him, will further facilitate the production of cannabis for trafficking purposes under the shadow of medical marijuana.
“Edi Rama is the only prime minister in Europe and more widely that his former interior minister is in prison, due to his involvement in the criminal groups of cannabis trafficking,” declared Alibeaj.
“But it seems that he has forgotten all this or pretends to, and now under the guise of cultivation for medical and industrial purposes, he seeks to legalize the production of cannabis,” he added.