|Cannabis has proven to be a tempting crop for low-income pensioners in Bulgaria|
Farmers in southwest Bulgaria have decided to put aside traditional crops such as tomatoes for something more profitable — cannabis. The only problem is, marijuana is still very illegal in this impoverished eastern European nation.
But that’s the very reason weed is more profitable than tomatoes or corn. Black market profits are hard to turn down if you’re on a fixed income, perhaps retired and elderly, and your meager pension doesn’t cover the rising cost of living, reports Fresh Plaza.
According to Terra.com.pe, Bulgaria, one of the poorest countries in the European Union, has very low pensions, making the temptation to enter the world of cannabis cultivation very strong. Marijuana brings 15 euros a gram on the Bulgarian black market, which beats the hell out of tomatoes.
Unfortunately, Bulgaria’s government doesn’t seem to distinguish between marijuana and hard drugs, so the penalties incurred by growers can be quite severe.
Nonetheless, in some areas of Bulgaria, particularly the southwest part of the country near the Greek and Macedonian borders, there are reportedly entire villages that rely on cannabis harvests for their economic sustenance, reports BasBasBas.com.
The entrance road to at least one village is supposed to be protected by gangsters who may or may not have deals with the police to keep them away. In recent years, there have been a few busts in these villages, such as in Gabrene, where 1,600 kilos of cannabis was found spread out over a field to dry by a 58-year-old farmer.
In the nearby village of Klyuch at the settled area of Mandrite, officials found 50 kilos of cannabis “drying among the corn fields” owned by a 73-year-old villager, reports Elitsa Grancharova at The Sofia Echo.
In fact, in a recurring scenario, villagers between 50 and 80 years old are the ones doing the marijuana cultivation. Even one 63-year-old priest was caught growing weed.
As citizens of the poorest nation in the EU, Bulgarians are doing what they have to do to survive.
“The people allegedly pretend to be growing crops and herbs and if you tell them it’s weed they will go ‘Oh really? What’s that?’ ” writes BasBasBas. “It’s right in the center of their normal crops, like corn.”