Video: On the Cannabis Industry in Lebanon. Will Beirut Become the Amsterdam of the Middle East?

Published February 14th, 2019 - 11:15 GMT
According to the UN Office on Drugs and Crime's report, Lebanon is the third largest exporter of cannabis resin in the world. (Shutterstock)
According to the UN Office on Drugs and Crime's report, Lebanon is the third largest exporter of cannabis resin in the world. (Shutterstock)

By Rim ElChami

Although Lebanon prohibited the production of cannabis in 1926, the industry reached its peak during the country’s 1975-1990 civil war, where an estimated 2,000 tonnes a year was leaving by illegal ports on the coast.

After the civil war ended, Lebanon prohibited the cultivation of cannabis in 1992 under the pressure from the US. However, Cannabis’ farmers in Bekaa Valley and Baalbek areas (dominated by Hezbollah) have witnessed a second boom since the Syrian war started. They claim that trade has grown by 50% since 2012, as Lebanese authorities have turned their attention to border security.

According to the UN Office on Drugs and Crime's report, Lebanon is the third largest exporter of cannabis resin in the world. Today, Cannabis’ clans bring in an estimated $175m-$200m a year illegally, exporting to the Gulf, Europe, Africa and North America.
 
In July 2018, Nabih Berri, Speaker of the Lebanese Parliament, announced that Parliament is preparing to study and approve legislation to legalize the cultivation of cannabis for medical use. The statement was made after Mckinsey & Co. recommended that as one of the solutions for the third most indebted country in the world, with a debt-to-GDP ratio of almost 153%.
 
Read More
 

In January 2019, an official study showed that the Lebanese plants currently used to illicitly produce cannabis are not suitable for medicinal and industrial use,which led the Lebanese MPs to mull the creation of a new market with an alternative crop rather than legalizing an existing market.

In addition, the MPs are taking other obstacles into consideration; high cost of establishing the infrastructure, legal framework and oversight agencies necessary to regulate a market fit to produce medicine that is up to Western standards are some of them.

So keeping all that in mind, and adding to it the all the political struggles Lebanon is facing, will Beirut become the Amsterdam of the Middle East anytime soon? 


© 2000 - 2021 Al Bawaba (www.albawaba.com)

You may also like