Lebanon’s parliament approved the legalization of the cultivation of cannabis. The consultancy McKinsey & Co. advised the government two years ago that the Lebanese cannabis then being grown under black market conditions for sale in domestic and international hashish markets, should be converted into “high added value medicinal products with export focus.” In an economic crisis, when virtually any new export income in welcome, the country is acting on that counsel.
Dozens of countries around the world have allowed production of and research in medical cannabis in recent years. Others have gone further and legalized cannabis use, especially for medicinal purposes. It helps relieve the side effects (nausea and vomiting) of treatments for cancer and some other terminal illnesses. It also has applications against asthma, glaucoma, and depression, and it serves as an anti-spasmodic.
The new Lebanese law is not a simple decriminalization. Rather, it establishes an elaborate system of licensing, and it calls for “strengthening criminal penalties on violations against the articles of this law.” In other words, there is a new open market in cannabis, but there continue to be a criminal black market.
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A former economy minister in Lebanon, Raed Khoury, said after reviewing the McKinsey report that a legal cannabis sector could deliver $1 billion in revenue.