The Albanian Government has put forward a draft bill that aims to regulate the cultivation, processing and production of cannabis and its by-products for both medical and industrial purposes.
In 2021, the Albanian government announced it was considering the legalisation of cannabis cultivation.
The announcement followed years of the country struggling with high crime rates related to the cultivation and export of unlicensed cannabis.
The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime’s World Drug Report 2022 highlighted that Albania was sixth in the world as a country of origin and departure for cannabis resin, as reported by Member States from 2016 to 2020.
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Whilst the Government has said that in recent years illicit cultivation and trafficking have been largely brought under control, it believes bringing activities overground could provide the country – which has seen generations of citizens cultivating the plant to make a living – with an economic boost.
Last year, Albania’s Prime Minister Edi Rama confirmed that the Government had begun drafting the proposed bill, as well as consulting with experts from countries with experience of legalising and introducing the cultivation and processing of medical cannabis.
The aim of the new draft legislation, officially put forward in June 2022, is to determine rules for the cultivation, production and controlled circulation of cannabis through licensed entities, as well as the import and export of cannabis.
Under the proposed law, all such activities would take place under the supervision of the country’s National Agency for the Control and Monitoring of the Cultivation and Processing of the Cannabis Plant.
Businesses wishing to cultivate cannabis in Albania will be able to apply for a licence from 1 January, 2023.
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The draft bill proposes that licenses for cultivation will last up to 15 years, with the option for renewal if criteria continues to be met. It would also allow for cultivation up to 150 hectares and licenses will be granted for covered surfaces, greenhouses or open surfaces.
However, it specifies that the area of an activity licence unit for medical purposes can not be smaller than five hectares and not larger than 10 hectares.
Additionally, once a business is granted a license, it must begin its activities within 12 months, otherwise the licence can be revoked.
Businesses that will be eligible for licences must meet a number of criteria including: having experience in the cultivation, production, processing, circulation and administration of the cannabis plant for medicinal purposes; own 51 per cent of the company’s shares; be exercising the activity of producing by-products of the cannabis plant in one of the OECD countries; be a holder of GMP licence issued by the EMA or the FDA; and, have capital of L1m [LEK] (~£72,3882) or more.
A business plan must also be submitted, along with a plan for drying, cutting and storage facilities and a security plan for the proposed site. At least 15 people must also be employed by any successful applicant, and after the third year licence holders will pay an annual fee equal to 1.5 per cent of annual turnover.
The bill emphasises the marking and tracking of all products.
It states: “Marking and tracking defined in this law, through a unique mark in the form of a code, stamp or label is mandatory at all stages, including import, cultivation, production, processing, storage, storage of the cannabis plant and its by-products, export and the use of by-products of the cannabis plant.”
Additionally, the law would prohibit the advertisement of any cannabis products that contain concentrations of higher than 0.2 per cent THC.
It also states that by-laws related to the cultivation, production, circulation and use of cannabis products will be approved within a period of three years from the day the bill enters into law.