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Lebanon minister plans to cash in on cannabis

  • Published at 11:45 am July 8th, 2018
  • Last updated at 11:50 am July 8th, 2018
Lebanese cannabis
File Photo: A man works in a field of cannabis in Hermel, Bekaa Balley, Lebanon, July 31, 2013 Reuters>

'The quality we have is one of the best in the world'

To revitalize the country’s struggling economy, Lebanon’s economic minister has endorsed a plan that includes capitalizing its best known illegal product, cannabis.

Lebanese Caretaker Economy and Trade Minister Raed Khoury, in an interview with Bloomberg News, discussed a plan to diversify the country's economy as it faces a deepening financial crisis, reports Newsweek.

The plan reportedly included legalizing Lebanon's illicit cannabis farms for medicinal exports.

“The quality we have is one of the best in the world,” said Khoury, adding that the cannabis had the potential to bring in up to a billion dollars.

The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), in its 2017 World Drug Report, ranked tiny Lebanon as the world's fourth-largest cannabis cultivator after Morocco, Mexico and Nigeria.

Dozens of farmers across the lush Bekaa valley, known in Roman times as the breadbasket of the world, have taken advantage of Lebanon's political vacuum this year to plant the largest cannabis crop since the end of the 1975-1990 civil war | AFP

Despite Lebanon's official no tolerance drug policy, Lebanese cannabis finds its ways to foreign markets such as in Amsterdam and some enthusiast outlets such as Herb have pondered whether the country's famous red and yellow strains are the best in the world.

This isn't the first time that the idea of cashing in on Lebanon's booming underground hashish market has been floated. Renowned Lebanese economist Marwan Iskander suggested the move to BBC News in 2016, which would reportedly bring in $4 billion. 

Khoury wouldn't be the first Lebanese politician to support it, either. Progressive Socialist Party head Walid Jumblatt tweeted in support of legalizing the cultivation and use of hashish in 2014.

“Never in my life have I smoked marijuana, but I support growing cannabis for medical use and to improve the living conditions of farmers in north Lebanon and the Bekaa Valley,” Jumblatt later told Al-Jadeed television, according to local news site Ya Libnan. “Let’s legalize cannabis and regulate its cultivation.”