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Albania

Italian military to grow medical marijuana

Posted on September 30th, 2014 by Global Ganja Report and tagged , , , , , .

ItalyItaly's government announced Sept. 18 plans to cultivate medical marijuana at a secure military lab outside Florence and distribute it through pharmacies. Medical marijuana has been legal in Italy since 2007, but only some 60 patients have signed up with the program overseen by the national healthcare system, the Azienda Sanitaria Locale. The Florence Military Chemical-Pharmaceutical Plant (SCFM) currently produces so-called "orphan drugs" no longer made by large pharmaceutical companies but still needed to treat rare diseases. It is now to grow cannabis under a deal signed between Defense Minister Roberta Pinotti and Health Minister Beatrice Lorenzin. "The institute already produces some medicines," Pinotti told Reuters, addressing the unlikely prospect of entrusting the military with weed cultivation. "And we can guarantee security conditions."

Albania: security forces battle cannabis growers

Posted on June 20th, 2014 by Global Ganja Report and tagged , , , , .

AlbaniaHundreds of Albanian police, backed by armored vehicles, stormed the southern village of Lazarat June 16 after cannabis growers apparently fired machine-guns, mortars and rocket-propelled grenades at officers sent in on a drug raid. Four people—a police officer and three villagers—are reported injured so far in the operation that remains underway. Smoke is reported to be rising above the village, with witnesses saying it was caused by locals burning cannabis plants before police closed in. Security forces have seized more than 10 tons of cannabis in the operation thus far. Lazarat is said to produce some 900 tons of cannabis annually, worth 4.5 billion euros ($6.1 billion)—equivalent to nearly half of Albania's gross domestic product. The village of some 5,000 people lives off the proceeds from the cannabis trade. Aerial photos suggest some 60 hectares were cultivated in Lazarat last November, amounting to an estimated half the total production of Albania. Heavily armed villagers have repeatedly fended off security forces sent in to eradicate the crop. 

Calabria connection broken in NYC-Italy cocaine sting?

Posted on February 11th, 2014 by Global Ganja Report and tagged , , , , , , , , , , .

ItalyA 15-count indictment was unsealed Feb. 11 in a Brooklyn federal court, charging seven defendants with narcotics trafficking, money laundering, and firearms offenses based on what an FBI press release calls their participation in a "transnational heroin and cocaine trafficking conspiracy involving the ‘Ndrangheta, one of Italy's most powerful organized crime syndicates." Italy's Polizia di Stato simultaneously announced the arrest of another 17 in the southern province of Reggio di Calabria by troops of the elite Central Anti-Crime Directorate. The coordinated international operation for two years monitored narco-trafficking networks between Latin America, Italy, Canada and the US. The Italian hub of the ring was identified as the port of Gioia Tauro in Reggio di Calabria. 

Mystery illness strikes Albanian cannabis harvesters

Posted on November 2nd, 2013 by Bill Weinberg and tagged , , , , .

EuropeOK, no pun intended, but this one doesn't pass the smell test. Reuters reports all too credulously Nov. 1 that doctors in Albania say hundreds of people have fallen ill from harvesting cannabis. The hospital in the southern city of Gjirokaster said some 700 have sought treatment since June for the effects of planting, harvesting, pressing and packing the crop. "In the last two months about seven to eight people arrive in the emergency ward each day and many more have come earlier with disorders from hashish," Gjirokaster doctor Hysni Lluka told local Top Channel TV.  Lluka said women and teenagers, who account for some 40% of those working in the notorious cannabis district of Lazarat, had sought help for vomiting, stomach pain, irregular heart beats and high blood pressure. One patient reportedly arrived "in a critical state." Uninitiated readers are left with the clear impression that harvesters were suffering from severe cannabis intoxication.

Albania emerges as top European cannabis hub

Posted on October 10th, 2013 by Global Ganja Report and tagged , , , , , , , , .

EuropeItalian police say Albania, the impoverished Balkan country just across the Adriatic Sea, is the source for vast quantities of cannabis entering G8 and EU member Italy. In the latest major haul in July, Italian Finance Police intercepted a full metric ton of cannabis from a speedboat along the coast of southern Puglia region. Four crewmen were arrested—two Italian and two Albanian. This came one month after the Finance Police released the results of months of air reconnaissance of Albania's hinterland, undertaken in a joint operation with Albanian police—identifying 500 cannabis plantations, accounting for a combined production of 1,000 metric tons with an estimated retail value of 4.5 billion euros. Over the past 20 years since the fall of its rigidly closed Communist dictatorship, Albania has won the title of "Europe's Afghanistan" for its prodigious cannabis production.

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