Lebanon legislators are poised to vote on a bill that would legalize cultivation of medical and industrial cannabis. The country hopes this would boost its economy and lessen the impact cannabis can have from the black market.
According to Aljazeera, the bill will be voted on by parliament and was already endorsed by committees within parliament. It would only legalize cannabis that contains less than one percent of THC.
Currently, Lebanon is known on the black market as a producer of hashish, despite the illegal nature of the product. It’s a major exporter of illegal cannabis, which is another reason that advocates hope it will be legalized. The bill would seek to replace that market with a regulated one that is geared to support medical patients (which includes less THC-centric medicine).
Yassine Jaber, one of the parliament members supporting the law, said the bill was based on a 2019 report a U.S. company called McKinsey & Company that recommended the country legalize cannabis in order to bring in more money. “We have a competitive and a comparative advantage in the cannabis business,” Jaber told Al Jazeera. “Our soil is among the best in the world for this, and the cost of production is low compared to other states.”
“This law would legalise cultivation without taking into consideration the situation of persons who consume drugs, or those who produce them,” Karim Nammour, a lawyer with progressive NGO Legal Agenda who specializes in drug policy, told Al Jazeera. “It’s an opportunity missed—they have failed to take a holistic approach.”
Lebanon officials have been working on legalizing cannabis for quite a while now, so there could be some more hurdles to passing this through. However, if it happens, the state could make a lot more in revenue. This could be a game-changer for the previously illegal country.