Prime Minister Zoran Zaev of North Macedonia considers the legalization of marijuana in Skopje, targeting tourist hotspots, cafes, and hospitality places.
Having been walloped by the COVID health crisis, the government has planned to take measures to stimulate the economy. North Macedonia may become the first Balkan country to allow the use of recreational marijuana.
For the past two years, the Prime Minister has warned that no decision has been made yet by his Social Democratic government despite the public debate that was promised. He is ready to retreat if the majority in the country refuses the idea.
Legal cannabis producers have started working on production, despite criticism from some pro-marijuana NGOs that the law is structured to prohibit small enterprises from entering the business and only allowing the big investors to profit.
The country has not fully decriminalized the use of marijuana. It has only allowed medical-use, which took effect in 2016 and is sold in pharmacies.
Justice Minister Bojan Maricic agrees that it is good to have the public debate starting with full decriminalization. He encouraged the NGO sector and experts to share their opinions. The government anticipates strict regulations taking the example of Amsterdam.
In regions like Croatia, the law drafted early this year on complete legalization of cannabis for medical use, and recreational purposes are currently in the phase of public debate before being fully legalized.
According to Maric, there are several benefits being brought by the quality regulation. Some of them are regulating the marijuana trade, stopping criminality, and economic benefits in the hospitality and tourism sector.
Once marijuana is legalized, the country could see an economic boost, especially in the tourism sector. This will also give small enterprises a chance to enter the business and to benefit.