Albania Goes to War With Pot Farmers
Hundreds of cops descend on lawless village
By Rob Quinn, Newser Staff
Posted Jun 19, 2014 12:15 AM CDT
Albanian police enter the lawless village of Lazarat, 140 miles south of Tirana.   (AP Photo/Hektor Pustina)

(Newser) – There's a new war in the Balkans: Albanian police versus the farmers who have made the country Europe's biggest producer of illegal marijuana. After years of turning a blind eye to the trade that rakes in billions of dollars a year—almost half the country's GDP—hundreds of police officers backed by armored vehicles have been deployed to the pot-farming village of Lazarat and are battling villagers armed with RPGs, mortars, and machine guns, the AP reports. The government says it is now in control of around half the village and has burned 11 tons of marijuana, a small fraction of the 900 tons the village is believed to produce every year.

The crackdown, which has only injured one police officer and three villagers despite the heavy gunfire, is part of the new Socialist government's attempt to stamp out the trade and boost its bid to join the European Union, the BBC reports. At Bloomberg, Leonid Bershidsky says he has a better idea. "Brussels should consider legalizing marijuana throughout the EU," he writes. "Then Albania, with its well-developed cannabis industry, could be welcomed to the union as a country with a legitimate, honorable specialization."

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Jun 21, 2014 10:52 AM CDT
We might as well legalize it, tax it 50% as whiskey is, and end this nonsense. The only thing is that employers would be legally permitted to give regular drug and alcohol tests to make sure employees, particularly in jobs that pose risks to the public, are sober and not high while on the job. Otherwise it is time to finally end the war on pot.
Jun 19, 2014 12:11 PM CDT
Albania, Albania You border on the Adriatic Your land is mostly mountainous And your chief export is chrome (errrr/pot)?
Jun 19, 2014 9:43 AM CDT
So when it's finally legalized in most of Europe Albania will have destroyed it's only valuable asset. Genius...