More than 112000 Albanians have spoken out on the issue
In late January, questionnaires covering a number of topics began arriving in homes as part of a nationwide consultation initiative launched by Prime Minister Edi Rama. He asks the population if the country should legalize medical cannabis
Among a dozen questions aimed at gathering public opinion, one of them asks Albanians if the country should implement a state-controlled medical cannabis program that would not legalize recreational use.
The survey offers a brief overview of why citizens might support legalization: “Medical cannabis, which is different from cannabis for personal use, has healing effects that are widely proven by science. However, as it results from the experience of experience in different countries of the region and the world, the controlled use of cannabis by the State has a very positive impact not only on health, but also on economic growth. and the fight against the illegal use of this plant »
Albanians over 18 can support legalization or not, or say they can't decide on the issue. They have the option of sending their opinion by mail or responding online. The government says that after the responses have been reviewed and processed, the results will be made public.
On Thursday, Rama said on Facebook that more than 112000 citizens had submitted responses.
“I believe that we Albanians have the opportunity to move forward much faster, listening to each other without being divided in the old political trenches that favor division, against the interest of Albanian families,” Rama said. about the investigation.
“It is time to leave behind the divisions of political disputes to take great steps forward, advising together on important decisions. »
Albania is one of the largest outside producers of illicit cannabis in Europe, and government interventions to curtail cultivation have not worked, according to the Global Initiative Against Transnational Organized Crime.
“The cannabis industry in the country has generated illicit profits for much of society, ranging from villagers who grow the plants to organized criminal groups who smuggle it overseas and sell it across the EU. During the 2016-2017 cultivation peak, the cannabis economy is estimated to have generated €2,2 billion,” reads the organization’s 2020 report.
Cannabis has been on the list of controlled drugs in Albania since 1994, when the government established the "Law on Narcotic and Psychotropic Substances." Then, in 1995, the Penal Code of the Republic of Albania was created, prohibiting the use, production and trade of narcotics.
Although cannabis is not specifically listed, the government has made it clear that it falls within the definition of narcotics, according to international law firm CMS. However, at present, several European countries are adopting the use of cannabis for medical and industrial purposes. Therefore, in the future, Albania may reform its cannabis legislation, at least in these two areas, to comply with other countries.
Industrial use of hemp was allowed in Albania in the 1970s and 1980s. But the hemp industry began to collapse in the 90s, and in 2000 the Albanian government classified hemp as a narcotic. The Albanian government discussed legalizing cannabis in 2016, but efforts have since slowed.