Albania is a small European country of almost 3 million people that sits in the southeastern part of the Balkan Peninsula, northwest of Greece and east of Italy. Formerly a communist country, they have been transitioning to a market-based economy over the last 20 or so years. But some vestiges of totalitarian regimes of the past still remain.
So far this year authorities in Albania have eradicated more than 2.4 million marijuana plants in the country. The amount of acreage cleared since June – 540 acres – is more than was cleared all of last year.
It seems that Albania is a major cannabis grower for surrounding countries; at least it was until officials started cracking down a few years ago. An expert puts the value of the plants eradicated this year at over $3 billion.
Albania is a country with an improving economy; maybe that’s one of the reasons officials there feel like they can use resources for some extreme gardening. To be fair, they may think they are doing damage to organized crime in the area, and that may be true in the short term; but restricting supply only serves to increase prices, which increases profits, which draws even more criminals into the market. The Albanian government will then spend more money to eradicate plants and the cycle will continue, wasting more resources with every go-around.
It is the cycle we have seen for so long in the United States, a cycle that is just now starting to slow down as states across the country relax their cannabis laws. We are beginning to realize as a society that marijuana prohibition has achieved none of its stated goals and that the time has come to end these destructive practices.
As is the case in the U.S. and around the world, many in Albania turn to marijuana growing to supplement a meager or even non-existent income.
“I am not committing a crime, it’s desperation that has led me to grow cannabis,” said a poor farmer who grows marijuana in the mountains of Albania. About 4 and a half pounds of marijuana sells for around $670, which is the same price that one ton of wheat commands. It’s easy to see why many farmers choose the former.
Only an end to cannabis prohibition in Albania will destroy the profit incentive for illegal growing and open opportunities for farmers to grow marijuana legally and profitably on their land, while saving government resources that can best be used somewhere else.