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Lazarat

Lazarat is a municipality in the Gjirokastër District, Gjirokastër County, southern Albania. The municipality consists of the villages Lazarat and Kordhocë.


Lazarat is a town just outside of Gjirokastër with a population of 5601. It is situated on a mountain slope close to the Greek border. Lazarat has become known as the cannabis capital of Albania, and now, Europe. However in June 2014, the Albanian government cracked down and destroyed the local production and transit of the drug.

Political Articulation

The town produces 900 tonnes of cannabis annually, worth €4.5bn, equivalent to around half of Albania's gross domestic product.

Since the Albanian Government's attempts to break the illegal cultivation of cannabis sativa there is a growing number of activists from both Lazarat and other parts of Albania and Kosovo that are demanding a special status for the small commune. The activists demand the right to legalize production and selling of cannabis inside municipality borders. Albanian Government has rejected local demands so far, declaring an all out war with the local Albanian population.

In June 2014, Albanian police launched a major operation against the village, involving over 800 officers. Heavily armed locals shot RPGs and fired mortar rounds at the officers, who returned fire. Police took control of most of the village, with Interior Minister Saimir Tahiri saying the operation would continue until "every square centimetre in Lazarat is under state control". Smoke rose from the village as locals burned cannabis plants.
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