The cultivation of cannabis in Albania goes back several decades, but experienced a peak around 2016, at which point the police undertook an eradication operation in an attempt to curtail the country’s widespread cannabis production industry. A more recent resurgence in cannabis cultivation, however, points to the fact that the underlying drivers of this illicit economy are still in place. Without a concerted effort to address collusion in the cannabis market and the country’s structural conditions, which entice many young people to seek a livelihood in cannabis production, the conditions that enable the market are unlikely to be disrupted.

Key points:

  • The conditions that enable cannabis cultivation in Albania have been in place for many years.
  • Despite police crackdowns on cultivation, the phenomenon continues to be pervasive.
  • Cultivating cannabis is seen as a source of income for many, particularly the young.
  • Colluding state officials are among the drivers of the Albanian cannabis economy.
  • A new approach is needed to break the cycle of reliance that the cannabis economy provides and attract young people into legitimate work.

Policy briefs on current issues in the Western Balkans will be published on a regular basis by the Civil Society Observatory to Counter Organized Crime in South-Eastern Europe. The briefs draw on the expertise of a local civil-society network who provide new data and contextualize trends related to organized criminal activities and state responses to them.

Growing like weeds? Rethinking Albania's culture of cannabis cultivation

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Fatjona Mejdini

Fatjona Mejdini has a bachelor’s degree in Journalism from Tirana University and as a well a master’s degree in Public Administration. After a long career as a journalist for national media in Albania, she was awarded with Hubert H. Humphrey scholarship and spend a year of professional development in DC, US. In 2015 she joined Balkan Insight as a correspondent, reporting stories from different Balkans countries. In 2016 she also co-established Investigative Journalism Lab, an initiative to develop quality journalism for Albanian young journalists. She joined GI as a field coordinator for the Balkans in September 2018.

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Kristina Amerhauser

Kristina joined the Global Initiative Against Transnational Organized Crime in October 2018. She is currently an analyst conducting research on the Western Balkans and working on the Civil Society Observatory to counter organized crime in South East Europe. She is based in Vienna.

Kristina holds a master’s degree in advanced international studies from the Vienna School of International Studies, a BSc in international business from the Vienna University of Business and Economics and a BA in development studies from the University of Vienna.

As a native Austrian, Kristina speaks German, English and Spanish, possesses working proficiency in French and basic knowledge of Italian.

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