While reform is moving apace in Europe, there have been noted trends in the opposite direction in several countries. Cannabis in Europe seemed to be in pretty bad shape recently as there is an increase in police crackdowns on Cannabis.
In Germany, while Montel Williams was waived through Frankfurt airport this summer after he proved the cannabis in his possession was for medical use, in other countries, the police have been active in pursuing large-scale marijuana grows particularly this year.
Two countries, in particular, seem to have seen more police activity of late – Spain and Albania – albeit for markedly different reasons.
Sunny Spain is about to become another victory for marijuana reform activists. The country has been toying with legalization for the past several years. Much like Holland, the “scene” exists in a technically gray area.
Private, non-profit consumption clubs are not technically illegal and legislation to formally legalize them is now in the near future. The police crackdowns on Cannabis have been active particularly in cracking down on the grows that support the clubs.
Because of the intolerable situation, similar to legalizing a bakery but not the right to actually bake bread, real reform here is well in need. They are on the cusp of actually passing the national legislature that would actually straddle the line between medical and recreational use.
Clubs would be formally legalized, along, presumably with the grows that support them (although this is still not entirely worked out).
In the meantime, however, the fuzz is keeping a close eye on how the market develops.
Larger grows with the potential to create more product than can be consumed by the attached clubs’ clientele are the main target.
Most of the police crackdowns on Cannabis taking place at the moment is to remind the highly tolerant cannabis public that evolving freedoms will still have to take place within a regulated market.
For you to get a picture on how cannabis clubs operate in Barcelona, Europe, you can read our recent entry Barcelona Cannabis Clubs and How to Work the System.
Albania, on the other hand, is far from reform. Long known as the center of illegal marijuana production for Europe as well as the gateway for other drugs via Asia and Latin America, the authorities have been cracking down with increased ferocity for the last three years.
The problem is, much like the drug war between the United States and Mexico in years gone by. The local Albanian farmers are currently left with few economic alternatives to support their families and the appetite for cannabis in Europe is at least a 25-30 billion dollar market annually. Farmers here are also beginning to utilize a special Dutch hybrid seed that allows them to boost their crop production (to allow three harvests per summer).
Added to this problem is the existence of what is suspected to be well-organized mafia and Isis drug cartels who are exploiting the situation to create a cash pipeline to fund other illicit activities if not terrorism across Europe.
Cartel battles with the police have led to bloody shootouts that include machine guns and larger weaponry that the police are ill-equipped to deal with. The local terrain is also mountainous and sparsely populated. The police have their hands full. Drug busts here, despite bringing in significant amounts of product, are mostly limited to halting drug transportation rather than production.
Despite the involvement of the Italian police – including air support – and multinational forces in cracking down on illegal production, the drug war in Albania rages without an end in sight.
Legalization is the Answer
The only likely end to police interdiction on cannabis in Europe will be legalization across the continent along with legal, regulated sovereign grows. That is currently underway and in more than one country.
- The Italian army finally went into the distribution of the first medically bound crops this September.
- The German government is less than two years away from establishing a federal cannabis agency and domestic crops.
- Even the UK has just moved forward on regulating CBD.
With more legalization and regulation afoot for cannabis in Europe, even in Greece, at some point, transporting illegal marijuana across the European continent through its Adriatic “back door,” will be more trouble than its worth.
In the meantime, however, the foot-dragging on even the legalization of medical just about everywhere, is creating a still fertile ground for the black market – and the grows that feed it – to thrive, particularly in Albania.
We Don’t Want to Prosecute Patients
Unlike the U.S., there is a marked distaste for prosecuting patients in Europe.
The idea of medical reform is an idea, across the continent, which has already taken hold, even if not formally in most places yet. The impact of medical cannabis on national healthcare systems which are both relatively still functional and far more comprehensive than in the United States also creates a predilection for finding effective and cost effective medical solutions to some of the most serious conditions that are untreatable in other ways.
The biggest concern in Europe, particularly right now, is creating an infrastructure where regulation and integration can take place while stemming the power if not money flowing to organized crime.