Inmates for 2gms of Weed and Animal Rights
By Alqi Koçiko
Albanian Daily News
Published October 12, 2017
In a country whose name has constantly been associated with drugs and trafficking in international and local press titles, the absurd penalties provided by the penal code for these crimes have always been highlighted. Specific cases of incarceration of users of drugs or possessors of small quantities classified as traffickers have been denounced in the media. It has also been noted how traffickers or large-scale cultivators usually get, at best, the same punishment when they are caught, even less. Because they get out of jail much earlier, as they have more money.
In this regard, the initiative that the former Interior Minister and Socialist MP Saimir Tahiri stated he has undertaken for a new categorization of these kinds of punishments (along with a new law on animal protection) is more than welcome. It is, however, surprisingly overdue, and I am not just talking about Tahiri. Many Albanians may still remember how the opposition leader Edi Rama, defended many years ago a grandmother who had been convicted after a few plants of cannabis were found in her yard. Her name was Feride and the year was 2008. Long story short, the elder woman was pardoned by the President, Bamir Topi, but this gesture created the impression that among the first things that Edi Rama would do when coming to power would be to differentiate this punishment hierarchy on drugs, as in the EU countries.
Since we are here, it is interesting that for years has become the subject of Albanian institutions, the approximation of Albanian legislation with the EU, the acquis communautaire. In several cases, Albanian specialists and experts have complained about a mechanical approximation and without regard to Albanian conditions and specifics. Apparently the differentiation of penalties concerning personal use, minimum possession, large-scale drug trafficking and money laundering has not been part of this process. Of course, during all these years the systematic punishment of the most vulnerable and weak, and the prosperity of big guns of drug trafficking took place, along with police's pride about its abundant annual statistics of fight against drugs.
To come back to Feride, the current prime minister no longer dealt with “that category” of convicts. On the contrary, even in campaign against energy abuse, illegal constructions etc. etc., the small offenders were regularly punished. And here we are at the end of 2017 when the former Interior Minister, who is widely accused by the opposition (but also by media and international reports) that after wiping out Lazarat, has colored Albania's map in the green of cannabis, shows up with this initiative.
Why now? Why didn’t he say a word about this "little" detail during his 4 years at the top job? It is clear; in this moment of weakness he yearns for protagonism; let’s hope that it is also a late regret and a mea culpa to the people convicted for few grams of hashish, as well as to the abused animals...