Legalize it? The cannabis question in Lebanon

Published March 28th, 2015 - 06:00 GMT

The cannabis question: Walid Jumblatt's call for the legalization of cannabis cultivation fits into a global trend, from the USA to Uruguay

Across a clinic desk or a dinner table, few things generate more interest these days than the pros and cons of legalizing cannabis in Lebanon. Earlier this year MP Walid Jumblatt, followed closely by colleagues from his political bloc, threw his hat in the ring and called for the legalization of its cultivation, pushing forward the economic argument but also the ‘harmless’ nature of cannabis use.

As for us, in Lebanon, it can’t be said that smoking cannabis is something we learned from the ‘corrupt’ West. The consumption of psychoactive substances is a long-established tradition in the Near East, including Lebanon. Cannabis cultivation in the Bekaa Valley can be traced back to Roman times, according to some sources. Nonetheless, we are not a nation of trendsetters. What is happening in the US—the culture and habits of which permeate most aspects of our lives—will lead us to question and challenge long-established beliefs. It wasn’t that long ago that a woman smoking cigarettes would have been as shocking to passersby as a group of hipsters lighting up a joint outside a pub in Mar Mikhail is perhaps today. In less than a decade, attitudes towards drug consumption— cannabis in particular—have eased.

Legalization would also involve taxation and a quality control system. If one wants to purchase cannabis legally, certainly one wants assurances that it is actually cannabis and that it is grown organically and with the appropriate content of THC—the active component that produces the desired euphoric effect.  As we often hear from users, the cannabis currently available on the Lebanese street is sometimes laced with other, more harmful ingredients, such as Ketamine, opiates and Salvia. I can hardly see our busy Ministry of Public Health laboratories focused on this matter when they are still struggling to establish what is in our labneh!

Source: Now


English-language journalism's 'bridge' to Iran: An interview with Golnaz Esfandiari

Based in Washington, DC, Golnaz Esfandiari is one of the few journalists based outside of Iran writing in English about the nuances and intricacies of Iranian society and politics. If you're an Iran watcher, you're probably already following Golnaz on Twitter. You might also know her blog, Persian Letters, one of the few English-language, Persian-speaker-led news sources on Iran.

I think the use of social media in Iran and its significance is increasing. Some Iranians told me they joined Twitter after reading about the allegations about a “Twitter Revolution” in Iran. Social networking sites have facilitated conversation and the sharing of content that is banned or considered sensitive, people can discuss taboo subjects relatively openly. They also challenge state policies and stances on social media quite regularly.

I think Iranians on social media are also playing a role in explaining to the world that their country is more than a number of nuclear facilities and mean clerics who make controversial statements.

Source: Global Voices


Syrians launch campaign to urge peace talks, end barrel bombs

Some 85 non-violent groups, representing 17,000 Syrians, are calling for global support to stop the intensifying barrel bomb attacks striking civilian areas in their country. They are also promoting inclusive peace talks as a way to stop the ongoing expansion of the Islamic State (Daesh).

The organizers have called the campaign “Planet Syria,” highlighting their perception of abandonment by the international community.

Coordinators of the campaign have emphasized "the link between the ongoing barrel bombing in Syria and the rise of ISIS,” adding that senseless violence is fueling radicalization.

Source: Syria Deeply



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