There’s a little town in the south of Albania called Lazarat. Lazarat is a very famous town in Albania, but for all the wrong reasons. This town is a marijuana growing hub. It’s become a kind of running joke with teens here in fact. The marijuana industry in this town is so extensive and strangely blatant that nearly every single farm in town is growing marijuana. And not just a little. Miles of it. Out in the open. No qualms about it.
As for me, I’ll only know about this strange mystical land through word of mouth since it’s strictly prohibited for PCVs to visit Lazarat and could mean the end of my service if I get caught there. So for now, I’ll just believe the rumors I hear and share them here on my blog as fact. I’m not a journalist; don’t hold it against me! At least you’ve been warned of where your information is coming from.
Marijuana is such a common thing in Albania that you’d think I lived in the Amsterdam of Eastern Europe. Which is far from the truth. Marijuana is actually illegal here, I swear. But like most laws in Albania, there is a lack of follow through on behalf of the police and government so people pretty much do what they please.
Which is when I discovered this funny little story. You know those old wives tales we joke about in America? Crazy things like putting whiskey in your colicky baby’s bottle so he falls asleep. Or rubbing vodka on you baby’s gums when he’s teething. You know the things I’m talking about. Before public health campaigns warned about the risks of intoxicating your baby and the like. These are the things that children of my generation just laugh about and shake our heads at when grandmas begins to a rant of “well in my day…” You know those stories that fall into the category of “we walked up hill both ways”. Oh, the crazy idea of giving a baby alcohol. What was grandma thinking?! But whatever, we turned out okay…right?
Well, I learned today that in Albania instead of putting whiskey in your baby’s milk, they grind up marijuana and put it in their food to help ornery babies stop crying. Say whaaaat? So there’s high little Albanian infants wandering around the city. Wonderful. This brings the fight for legalizing marijuana to a whole new level. Grandmas all over the world are probably loving this.
Every culture has its old wives tales and at-home remedies but this has to be my favorite. Way better than the other Albanian ones I’ve heard so far- put yogurt on sunburn to make it go away; snort raki up your nose to get rid of congestion; put vinegar on your body to ward off mosquitos; put crushed garlic on bruises to reduce the swelling. So now I just have to hope that public health campaigns in Albania make this one of those old wives tales instead of a doctor recommended treatment someday. And in future generations of Albanians smile and laugh and shake their head at their grandmas’ stories about giving marijuana to babies. One can hope.
“It’s not better. It’s not worse. It’s just different.”