While Beirut relies heavily on the export of cannabis, the state hesitation, in this case, is already threatening this lucrative market.
In the light of the success of therapeutic cannabis in the world, and particularly in North America, Lebanon is considering legalizing the production of the plant on its territory. The latter holds the fourth largest reserve on the planet.
This government’s determination is a direct result of the difficulties encountered by the Cedar Land, due in particular to the massive influx of refugees from neighboring Syria, which has been plagued by civil war for eight long years now. A quota now representing a quarter of the population and impacting on the domestic economy.
A real gold mine
In fact, the international consulting firm, McKinsey & Cie – commissioned by the authorities to prepare an economic recovery plan – also had an impact on this turnaround. This can be achieved by advocating, among other things, the establishment of regions dedicated to the cultivation of the substance for medical purposes and within a legal framework.
President Aoun would, therefore, have two choices in this matter. Because cannabis, which is still prohibited by law, is the delight of parallel commerce and mafia networks. As a result, the exploitation of these extremely rich fields would directly benefit the State coffers; a financial windfall that could reach 500 billion euros each year, experts estimate. This is not to be underestimated.
A two-edged state communication
However, this measure is, unfortunately, taking a long time to be adopted… unfortunately, Lebanese farmers who feel betrayed. A rigid situation that Talal Chreif, president of the municipal council of Yammouné (Bekaa plain), denounced:
“This proposal has been ignored. We have seen a lot of journalists come to our country to inquire about our fate (…) For two years, (it’s quite simple), farmers have not been able to sell the products. They store it in their barns for lack of buyers and as a result, they plant less. This is due to the strict security measures (applied by) maritime and air customs. (But also) the situation in Syria where overland traffic has become much more expensive. As a result, supply has become greater than demand and cannabis prices, 80 percent of which are for export, fell to $150 per kilo last year. Also, last year’s merchandise, like that of 2016, has still not been sold and is waiting in farmers’ barns. (Finally), like all perishable goods, cannabis resin cannot be stored forever. After four or five years, it is (therefore) no longer good for consumption,” he explains.