It’s a fairly self evident statement in itself but as we have an article highlighting recent issues in the country it’s worth noting a few things that have happened on the ground recently .. just so we all know quite clearly !
An American investor decided to invest in hemp cultivation in Armenia, in agreement with the authorities. However, just mentioning cannabis plantations caused a storm of indignation in Armenian society. The executive of the republic really didn’t want to lose the support of civil society.
Although the citizens do not want any form of legalization, they are not reluctant to go to neighboring countries where cannabis is already legalized, like Georgia, to get cannabis.
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An Armenian-American cannabis company to create 10,000 jobs
$50 million investment and about 10,000 jobs were the figures used by the founder of “Armerika” LLC Ruben Mkrtchyan in a meeting with Armenian journalists. His own Armenian-American company contacted the country’s authorities and offered cooperation: investment in exchange for a license to produce industrial hemp.
This cannabis variety does not contain cannabinoids, does not have narcotic properties, but is very useful in the textile, cosmetic and culinary industries. This is the hemp that Mkrtchyan wanted to grow while promising a considerable amount of money in the form of taxes. However, the state treated “Armerika” in a rude way, first accepting the proposal and then destroying all the crops of this harmless type of hemp.
As Ruben Mkrtchyan said, he obtained the verbal consent of the office of the Deputy Prime Minister of Armenia, Tigran Avinyan, and officially signed a contract with the Armenian police last year to protect the crops. More than $3,200 per month for daily police security and assuming the obligations requested for the plantations.
The hemp seeds were imported
Seeds were brought in, they were sown, and things went well. However, in August, police from a different department destroyed all the crops. And, according to Mkrtchyan, this whole story cost him about $170,000.
The deputy prime minister’s office said the crops were illegal in Armenia and could not be grown. However, the “Armerika” company published correspondence with Avinyan’s office, the contract with the police, and a series of documents testifying that the business plan was presented in a very intelligible way to all parties concerned. From these documents resulted that the Armenian authorities were aware of what was happening and what they were dealing with.
This issue possibly caught Armerika at the center of a crisis or war of opinion between various parts of the country’s society. Possibly ending the foreign investor’s crops was a lesser blow than the reputation of allowing hemp cultivation. All of this because of the ambivalent attitude of Armenian society towards cannabis.
Hemp plantations in Armenia during Soviet times were 80% of the total hemp plantations in the world
In Soviet times, industrial hemp was grown on an industrial scale in Armenia and other southern republics, and no one saw any problems in this. In 1936, the Union allocated 680,000 hectares of land to hemp, about 80% of all the hemp plantations in the world at that time. It was such an important crop that it was immortalized in the famous People’s Friendship Fountain in VDNK along with sunflower and wheat.
In Armenia, hemp grows everywhere because of the ideal conditions. Any summer resident, in his breeding season, can see a bush or two of marijuana or hemp in his area. However, most Armenians cannot tell the difference and all varieties are banned.
In neighboring Georgia, cannabis is legal
Many young people consume cannabis regularly and others even grow it “on their own”. At the same time, lawyer Ruzanna Avagimyan, pointed out that attempts to equate it with neighboring Georgia, where cannabis is legal, had strong negative reactions from Armenian society.
However, it is perfectly normal for Armenians to visit the neighboring country to consume cannabis. Avagimyan said that each country’s laws reflect the needs and characteristics of its society, are adapted to it, and it is useless to look for a common denominator among them. In Armenia, adopting the Georgian experience is politically risky, legally unjustified, and in practice completely useless.
There is no hurry to legalize cannabis for medical purposes
Nor is the country in a hurry to legalize cannabis for medical purposes. In fact, important voices from the Ministry of Health’s Narcology and Addictions said cannabis health benefits are being fattened by one interested party. The Armenian medical community, on this issue and for now, is waiting for the opinion of its international colleagues to take a stand.
It is also true that police officials said that cannabis is not a serious problem in Armenia. Nobody assaults young people on the premises. That is because it’s not worth it. The police would have to spend too much time catching private consumers and the fine is too small.
Another issue is cannabis sales. In this regard, the police and judges take the job more seriously.
Cannabis to be legalized in Armenia
Last year, the speaker of the Armenian parliament, Ararat Mirzoyan, spoke about the subject in one of his interviews. He pointed out that the total ban is “pharisaism”, and that cannabis legalization would solve many problems.
The way cannabis legalization is seen in Armenia has changed with the change of power in Armenia. Currently, the issue of cannabis has started to be discussed in a public field at the highest levels.
After the scandal with Armerika, Armenian Deputy Prime Minister Avinyan, hinted that at least the issue of industrial hemp could be brought back in the future, and the Ministry of Economy was “studying” this issue. Although, this may be an attempt to persuade the investor to lower the scandal.
The issue was discussed in parliament and had both supporters and opponents. The third political formation in the country, “Brilliant Armenia”, raised the issue in parliament, and outside it, to Armenian informants with some influence to press for legalization of hemp production. It is now included in the Armenian agenda.