Covid-19 to increase cannabis production in Albania, Interpol and the European Center estimates

Covid-19 to increase cannabis production in Albania, Interpol and the European Center estimates
 In Albania, which is a producer of cannabis for European markets, the cultivation of this plant is expected to increase, while the sources for law enforcement have shifted to enable the implementation of restrictive measures against Covid-19. This is the conclusion reached in the latest joint report of Interpol and the European Center for Drug Monitoring and Drug Addiction (EMCDDA).

This finding comes as Albania is preparing to legalize cannabis production for medical purposes only. The increase in production seems driven by the lack of this product in European markets after the pandemic and rising price of cannabis in many countries, such as France, Belgium, Norway, Spain, etc. While the availability of cannabis (supply) has declined in most European countries. The same trend has been observed for heroin and cocaine.

According to the report, some trafficking routes from the Western Balkans to the rest of the region and the EU are still in use, based on large seizures of cannabis in Montenegro, North Macedonia and Serbia. Moreover, in May, the report says, more than a tonne of cannabis was reported near the Greek-Albanian border.

The report says cannabis production in the Western Balkans is expected to increase due to shifting priorities in law enforcement towards compliance with pandemic restrictions.

The report, the second since November 2019 (where drug markets were analyzed), looks at developments in the European narcotics market following the Covid-19 effect.

"The economic effects of the crisis are likely to make our communities more fragile, both in terms of the drug problem and the implications for the drug market," said Alexis Goosdeel, director of EMCDDA.

According to the report, “Global travel restrictions and other measures as a result of COVID-19 pandemic have had a temporary limiting impact on the European drug market leading to shortages and higher prices for some types of narcotics, but the situation is subject to rapid change”.

Although production appears to be continuing, 14 experts reported a decrease in availability and an increase in plant cannabis prices at retail and/or wholesale market levels. The increase in retail prices of vegetable cannabis in some member states means that there has been a shortage of supply during pandemics, which is likely to be related to distribution issues.

Reducing availability is probably a temporary effect that can result from restrictions on drug markets due to social distancing, cannabis storage, or border closures, limiting trafficking between countries.

Albania, the largest producer of plant cannabis trafficked in the EU

The previous November report, "Drug Market 2019", a publication conducted once every three years by the European Drug Monitoring Center (EMCDDA), cites Albania as the largest producer of cannabis trafficked in the European Union, the money of which cash is transported by car to Albania and invested in real estate, construction, and tourism. The report cites the empowerment of Albanian-speaking criminal groups (including Albanian-speaking individuals from Albania, Kosovo, Macedonia, etc.) in European Union countries, especially in the trafficking of heroin and cocaine in the UK, by displacing Turks and others.

According to the report, “Albania is likely to be the largest producer of cannabis trafficked in the EU. During 2017 and 2018, large-scale trafficking of cannabis from Albania to the EU continued. Italian herbal cannabis seizures increased from nearly 42 tonnes in 2016 to more than 90 tonnes in 2017, reflecting the intensification of trafficking activity across the Adriatic Sea. In response to the growing pressure exerted by the Italian authorities, Albanian-speaking criminal organizations, often in collaboration with those of the Italian mafia style, are now targeting countries further north along the Italian coast. Greek coast guard reports regular movements of small high-speed ships from Albania and Italy to the Aegean and Ionian seas, with the aim of smuggling cannabis to Turkey. Albanian-speaking criminal organizations cooperate with others in several EU member states: Austria, Croatia, Greece, Hungary, Italy, Romania, Sweden, Turkey, and the United Kingdom. These countries have reported increased seizures of cannabis, of Albanian origin. Albanian-speaking criminal organizations involved in plant cannabis trafficking also use cash cashiers, who usually smuggle money into Albania from the EU by car. In Albania the cash is used to invest in real estate, construction, and tourism.
Covid-19 to increase cannabis production in Albania, Interpol and the European Center estimates Covid-19 to increase cannabis production in Albania, Interpol and the European Center estimates Monday, June 01, 2020 Rating: 5
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