American actor Jim Belushi met with the Albanian Prime Minister Edi Rama to discuss the Albanian government’s initiative to legalize cannabis and the possibilities of exporting this product for medical purposes.
In the season finale of the documentary series “Growing Belushi” (which aired on 10 May 2023), Prime Minister Rama outlines how his government is preparing legislation to legalize medical cannabis in Albania. Furthermore, he urged Belushi to be a pioneer in the cannabis business in Albania, by encouraging him to set a positive example of how the development of this business can be beneficial to the Albanian economy and people.
Albania has favorable climate for cannabis cultivation, and it has been estimated that outdoor cannabis can be grown between six to seven months out of the year with no environmental issues.
In mid-2022, the Albanian government announced the plan to legalize the cultivation of medical cannabis and industrial hemp for companies which have such experience in European countries. The draft law proposed that applicants who wish to cultivate and process medical cannabis must hold another similar license in an OECD country and a Good Manufacturing Practice from the European Medicines Agency or Food and Drug Administration. The draft law also foresees the establishment of a national agency for the control and monitoring of the cultivation and processing of the cannabis plant for medical and industrial purposes, as well as the production of its by – products (“Agency”). Following the proposal of the Minister of Health and Social Protection, the Council of Ministers would grant cannabis manufacturing licenses for 15 years, with an option for renewal. According to the draft law, the activities to be carried out cannot be assigned to third parties, unless otherwise provided in the prescription of the license.
Further to the above, the draft law provides for the establishment of an Industrial Hemp Processor Register, which will be administered by the Line Ministry of Agriculture and grant access to the Agency and to the Line Ministry for Public Order and Security. Any farmer, entrepreneur and/or legal entity intending to cultivate industrial hemp must be registered with the Industrial Hemp Processor Register and equipped with a cultivation permit issued by the Ministry responsible for agriculture. The permit is issued for a 5-year period, with an option for renewal.
The draft law was published for public consultation in 2022 but until now no further steps have been taken for its adoption.
By Veton Qoku, Partner and Ermal Mema, Associate, Karanovic & Partners