Europe: Albanian Hemp Farmers Freed as Judge Rules It's Not Marijuana 1/13/06

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For the second time in five years, Albanian police have arrested farmers growing industrial hemp, and for the second time in five years, an Albanian judge has told the cops to knock it off.

In the latest case, five villagers were jailed for two weeks for growing marijuana before being freed. When they were arrested, Interior Minister Sokol Olldashi appeared on a popular Albanian TV show to crow about busting a ton of weed, Reuters reported. He had no comment this week.

Industrial hemp is easily distinguished from marijuana by its appearance. Hemp is a tall, stalky, fibrous plant, while marijuana (cannabis sativa or indica) is a shorter, bushier plant. Hemp contains no significant levels of THC, the psychoactive ingredient in marijuana.

"I never imagined I would be pictured in the newspapers as the head of an international drug ring. It's one of those things that makes you cry and laugh at the same time," said Martin Pellumbi of the Shkrel area farmers' association.

Last time this happened, a police drug expert lost her job. This time around, the Albanian government may have to pay. The hemp field was a project of the British development aid agency Partnership for Growth, whose fields were also victimized in the 2001 bust. The group told the BBC it lost $100,000 in the last raid, for which it has not been reimbursed. Now it is preparing to sue for lost earnings as a result of this raid. Sadly, it also said it will reconsider its decision to encourage hemp production.

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Issue #418 -- 1/13/06

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Feature: Federal Meth Precursor Sting Targeting South Asian Convenience Stores Draws Protests, ACLU Intervention | Feature: Cannabis Causing Schizophrenia in British Marijuana Policy | Feature: Alito Hearings Yield Inconclusive but Mostly Bad Forecasts for Drug War Issues | Feature: In the Wake of Booker, Some Small Relief for a Small Fraction of Federal Crack Cocaine Offenders | Law Enforcement: This Week's Corrupt Cops Stories | Sentencing: Federal Appeals Court Upholds Mandatory 55-Year Sentence for Man Who Sold Marijuana While Armed | Sentencing: New Jersey Legislature Passes Bill to End Mandatory Driver License Suspensions for Drug Offenders | Marijuana: Bill to Recriminalize Marijuana in Alaska Introduced and Moving | Europe: Leading British Date Rape Drug is Alcohol, Study Finds | Europe: Albanian Hemp Farmers Freed as Judge Rules It's Not Marijuana | Latin America: US Seeking Talks with Bolivia's Morales on Coca, Trade | Web Scan: NORML Animation, Budapest Drug Policy Dialogue | Weekly: This Week in History | Weekly: The Reformer's Calendar

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