In its quest to join the European Union, Albania is trying to destroy a large chunk of its economy: About 800 police officers have been deployed to seize bags filled with marijuana and to burn plantations around the village of Lazarat, which has been producing about 900 tons of the stuff a year, according to one estimate.

The socialist government of Prime Minister Edi Rama apparently hopes that the destruction of the pot will help win over EU officials, who have expressed concern about a number of problems in the deeply corrupt, lawless, predominantly Muslim country. One issue is the custom of blood feuds, a phenomenon the Albanian authorities have found hard to quantify, even though it has severely damaged the country's reputation.

Another issue is a commercial dispute between Albania and the Czech power company, CEZ AS, an investor in its power distribution system.