Published: 2018-08-10 11:15
Last Updated: 2018-08-10 17:08
Lebanese legislators are still looking into possibly legalizing the cultivation of cannabis, a proposal that has caused major concerns for drug traffickers in eastern Lebanon, seeing as if the proposed bill - submitted by politicians - was to be passed, the traffickers would lose their influence and suffer financial losses.
If the bill is passed, cannabis will be grown in a way that would diminish the plant’s hallucinogenic effects and turn it into a hybrid that it suitable for medical purposes instead.
Drug dealers will not only have no access to the cannabis harvest, but they will have to see it go to pharmaceutical companies, as well.
MP Antoine Habshi proposed changing the type of the plant for medical purposes. He told Asharq Al-Awsat that the proposal submitted late last month “will not legalize drugs in Lebanon, meaning that they will not be available in the markets. Instead, alternative agriculture will be used for medical purposes.”
The bill “will put a final end to the role of drug traffickers,” according to Habshi, who stressed that the current cannabis being planted and trafficked in Lebanon will not be legalized, as they contain high levels of hallucinogenic substances and narcotics, adding that the cultivation process will be closely monitored by pharmaceutical companies according to specific criteria.
Not everyone is on board with the proposed idea.
MP Walid Sukkarieh, member of the Baalbek-Hermel parliamentary bloc, told Asharq Al-Awsat: “I have a personal opinion on this subject apart from that of the bloc. I am against the cultivation of anything called drugs, for the simple reason that we have no controls in Lebanon; but if things go towards legislation, I will not stand in the way.”
The idea to legalize cannabis cultivation in Lebanon emerged last month, with the agenda of developing the northern Bekaa region, where the plant is currently grown.
In 2013, around 400,000 square meters were cultivated in the Bekaa region in cooperation with farmers, as part of an number of experiments carried out by international organizations. The experiments harvested positive results, after showing that the quality of the cannabis they grew for medical purposes was up to their standards.
The experiments resulted in this proposal: the establishment of five manufacturing units, each of them capable of securing 300 jobs.