TIRANA (Reuters) - Five Albanian villagers jailed for two weeks for growing cannabis were set free after a court ruled the plant was actually industrial hemp, raised with the help of a British foundation for export to the United States.
"I never imagined I would be pictured in the newspapers as the head of an international drug ring. It's one of those things that makes you cry and laugh at the same time," said Martin Pellumbi of the Shkrel area farmers' association.
Interior Minister Sokol Olldashi had appeared on a popular TV show to announce to the country that police had seized a tonne of cannabis. His ministry had no comment Monday.
It was the second time in five years that Albanian drug police mistook hemp for cannabis and arrested the growers.
Cannabis Sativa L, or industrial hemp, contains far less tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) than Cannabis Sativa, the recreational drug. The wrong analysis cost a police expert her job in 2001.
Since toppling communism, Albania has become a transit route for hard drugs. Cannabis is also cultivated in remote mountain areas.