Analysis 21 Nov 16

‘Cannabis Economy’ Threatens to Overrun Albania

Albanian police seem to be losing the fight to stop widespread cannabis cultivation, which experts say is distorting the economy and politics and undermining the pillars of democracy.

Fatjona Mejdini
BIRN
Tirana
Albanian Police during an anti-cannabis action. Photo: State Police 

Cannabis cultivation is once again in the spotlight in Albania as the opposition and government cross swords over the subject.

The centre-right opposition accuses Edi Rama’s centre-left government of turning a blind eye to widespread cannabis cultivation in order to please people involved in the “industry” ahead of next year’s general elections. Ruling party officials strongly deny the claim.

Experts, meanwhile, say drugs cultivation is overshadowing and distorting the Albanian economy, weakening legal businesses and corrupting state institutions.

They believe that unless the government finally cracks down on two decades of large-scale cannabis production, it could shake the foundations of society, much like the disastrous Ponzi-style pyramid schemes that crashed the economy and pushed to the country to the brink of civil war in 1997.

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