Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Gone to Pot...

Though I may be far away, I am still keeping up with news from Albania and this tidbit was in my inbox this morning. It deals with a very serious problem- illegal drug production- but it gave me quite a chuckle! The government has been clamping down on cannabis growers in the south of the country and apparently it isn't just young people who are involved.

"Why didn't you come much earlier?" an old woman wailed at the police, berating them for not acting before work had gone into growing the crop. "Four of our donkeys died fetching water for these plants. And now you come and the harvest's all gone."

I'd be furious too if my donkeys died! Waaahhhh.... but to give the police credit, they did warn the villagers in June that it would not be tolerated this year.

I bet you didn't even know that Albania is such a major producer of drugs did you? But according to the article,

"Plenty of sun, water, poverty,anarchy and hard-to-reach hills turned post-communist Albania into one of the biggest exporters of cannabis in Europe."

It's a huge problem which the authorities have turned their backs on in the past, but now that the country is looking towards European Union membership they are making an attempt at being tougher on the things which the EU frowns upon.

Desperate, poor families in destitute villages will do anything to feed their children, even growing illegal drugs, according to the article. But I ask- if the conditions are good for growing marijuana, wouldn't they be good for growing vegetables and fruit? I think the villagers are not as desperate as they like us to think. Drug growing is a lucrative career, which brings in lots of cash, and that's what it's about. Money.


Romerican said...
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Romerican said...

Yes, I admit I had no idea Albania was significant host to marijuana (repeatedly show to be less harmful than alcohol).

Strangely, previous information I came by seemed to indicate the EU would be more "tolerant" of cannabis than current post-communist would-be dictatorial fiefdoms.

I didn't expect Amsterdam. Or Enlightenment. But I remains surprised at the use of resourses to quash a largely unharmful crop.

(We're not talking opium or cocaine, for the deluded, ignorant readers.)

hockeyman said...

Its interesting how the power of EU inclusion drags countries closer to real democracy, healthcare and common laws. The power of citizenship. The US would do much better rethinking its power in the world, and trying to make the world safer and fairer and a better place to live by thinking through how to use this model.

MsDemmie said...

I guess if it is a choice of growing a field of potatoes and getting say 500 euro or a field of grass at 20000 euro - for the same work - the difference between survival and living - I can have every sympathy for their choice.

I suspect howevr they are as ripped off as the usual vegetable crop groweres and the money is made by the gangs and criminals.

Had no idea Albania was such a fertile country !

christina said...

Wow, who knew? This is interesting because I was just thinking about doing a post on the huge problem of marijuana grow-ops in Vancouver. Looks like everyone is out to make a buck.

Kirk Johnson said...

I don't mean to be rude--and much of your blog seems very interesting and well-written--but this post seems like something straight out of 'The Onion.'
Seriously, do you think any kind of money could be made growing potatoes versus marijuana? Of COURSE it's about money, but considering the limited economic opportunities in the villages, what other sources of hard cash do they have?

Ginnie said...

Hmm. I hate these dilemmas! It's hard to believe the drug dealers are giving them much more money than they'd receive for growing fruit and vegetables. That would be interesting to find out. Is there a way for you to check this out for us?

Owen said...

I very much doubt you have to earth up marijuana. That'd be as good a reason for growing one crop rather than the other even if the price was at the same level, not to mention no worry about Phythophthora blight.

ITS said...

Marijuana is way way less demanding in growing than any vegetable/grain/fruit crop. That's why it's called weed. For some of these lazy villagers from remote areas is therefore the perfect crop.

However I feel sorry for them with the govt giving them a hard time. No bad thing ever came of a bit of pot. At least if they are able to grow it and sell it, they might be able to get out of the misery and improve their economic bind.

While a bit extreme, I am firm supporter of all undergrownd economies in transitionary countries such as Albania. Dirty money has changed the sky-line of Vlora, and spun hundreds of big legitimate businesses that now employ thousands and thousands of Albanians all over the country. This is nevertheless progress.

How was Las Vegas, or Chicago for that matter build?