Hey smokers, tokers, slackers, and potheads, don’t go to Amsterdam to find the marijuana capital of the world. Go to Albania. Lazarat, an isolated village nestled in the mountains of Albania has become the new marijuana capital of Europe.
Lazarat has developed a cannabis business that is generating $6 billion per year on 60 acres of the town’s land. According to Global Post, it is estimated that 90 percent of the village’s residents are involved in the cannabis business.
Is marijuana legal in this tiny European nation? No. According to marijuanatravels.com, “all marijuana related activities including possession, transport, cultivation and sale are illegal in the country…” Well, where are the police, you ask? The last time law enforcement attempted to enter Lazarat, a firefight ensued, one a police commissioner described as “very much like a real war.” When police began cutting down marijuana plants, they were quickly approached by 15 SUVs with mounted machine guns. The machine guns weren’t for show. The commissioner said, “we were drawing fire from 20 positions, including heavy machine guns and anti-tank missiles.”
Journalists aren’t wanted in the village, either. The citizens patrol the roads entering the village and discourage anyone who may bring unwanted publicity to this once sleepy little village.
Because of the economic crises in neighboring Italy and Greece, Albania’s economy has been in a slump. However, the economy is booming in Lazarat, and there is no doubt that a booming marijuana business at least helps some parts of the country’s economy.
According to Besar Likmeta, an editor the Balkan Investigative Reporting Network (BIN), law enforcement may be keeping away from the town not because of the gunfire they receive, but for other reasons: “In Albania it’s an open secret that the government does not go into Lazarat not because it lacks the firepower but because the drug money finances not only the posh lifestyle of corrupt officials but also political campaigns.”
So smokers, tokers, slackers, and potheads, if you want to light up in a bar or cafe, Amsterdam is still your best bet, but if you want to experience the true marijuana capital of Europe, you might want to take a trip to Lazarat in Albania. It’s not as safe as Amsterdam, and you might want to take along a machine gun and a tank, but the fields are alive with cannabis!