Cannabis law and legislation in Albania

Medical use

The use of cannabis for medical purposes is prohibited in Albania, and doctors are not allowed to prescribe it for health conditions.

In 2000, Albania has joined the Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs of 1961, which is an international treaty that prohibits the use, production and trade of listed narcotics, except for medical treatments and research. Nevertheless, to this day, this part of the treaty for the medical use of cannabis has not been enforced by Albania.

Recreational use

In 1994, the Albanian government established the “Law of Narcotic and Psychotropic Substances”, and cannabis was included in the list of controlled drugs. On 27 January 1995, the criminal code of the Republic of Albania was created, and the usage, production and trade of narcotics was prohibited. Cannabis is not listed as a specific offence, however the government made it clear that it is included in the narcotics definition.

According to Article 283 of the criminal code, sale, offer for sale, giving or receiving of any form, distribution, trading, transport, sending, delivering, and keeping, excluding cases when it is for personal use and in small doses, of narcotic and psychotropic substances and seeds of narcotic plants, in conflict with the law, is sentenced to imprisonment of from five to ten years.

The code itself does not define what “small doses” means, however in 2008 the government explained that this is not an official amount, but it is only determinable on a case-by-case basis, considering who is the offender, their age and the THC levels of the single dose that they are possessing.

Industrial use

From the late 1970s to the 1980s, cultivation and export of hemp was allowed, especially for the use in oil and textile industries. However, in the early 1990s, hemp factories started to collapse until hemp was officially classified in 2000 as a narcotic, and laws were enacted to strictly prohibit its use in any field and sector.

The Albanian government, in 2016, discussed legalising the cultivation of industrial hemp, nevertheless it was never achieved nor allowed.

It is known that Albania has been one of the biggest producers and sellers of illegal cannabis during the last 30 years, and the government fears that allowing the cultivation of industrial hemp will lead to a misuse of this substance and to a violation of every anti-drug law in force.

Lately, a large number of American-Albanian hemp companies are pressuring the Government into legalising the industrial use of hemp, underlying the benefits of it for the economy and the industry of the country. As of today, however, the cultivation of plants that serve or are known to serve for the production and extraction of narcotic and psychotropic substances, even for industrial purposes, is punishable by imprisonment from three to seven years. The same act, when committed in complicity, or more than once, is punishable by imprisonment up to ten years.

Patentability

It is not possible to patent cannabis-based products in Albania, since every use of it is prohibited and criminalised.

Latest developments

After the National Strategy Against Drugs of 2012-2016 was implemented by Albania to fight drug abuse, cultivation, import/export and trade in general, it is unlikely that the government will change its direction and reform the drug legislation. The government itself has highlighted the drug related risks, as well as the potential impairment that narcotics might have on Albania’s integration process in the European Union.

However, at the moment, European countries are embracing cannabis use for medical and industrial purposes, therefore in the future Albania might reform its cannabis legislation at least in these two fields to conform with the other countries.

Mirko Daidone
Managing Partner
Tirana
Ina Doci
Junior Associate
Rome