Jumblatt: legalize cannabis in Lebanon
'I support growing cannabis for medical use,' prominent Druze politican Walid Jumblatt said on Thursday.
Lebanon should legalize cannabis for medical purposes and through the plant’s cultivation develop the eastern Bekaa Valley, said MP Walid Jumblatt, the country’s leading Druze politician.
“I support growing cannabis for medical use and I am with legalizing it in order to develop the Western Bekaa, the traditional place where cannabis was grown,” Jumblatt told al-Jadeed TV on Thursday.
He said the government under the late Prime Minister Rafiq Hariri had tried a crop substitution program in the Bekaa Valley but that the plan had failed.
Alternative crops the state tried to introduce included the growth of saffron, he said, but “we failed at growing these alternatives.”
“This [failure] led to a great number of people form the Bekaa [Valley] moving to the southern suburbs of Beirut for work because they had lost a means of sustaining themselves,” he said.
“It could have been regulated and legalized for medical purposes instead just like in Turkey opium is taken advantage of for morphine,” he said.
“I am with legalizing it for medical purposes or personal use if it does not lead to addiction and for economic reasons,” Jumblatt said.
Under international pressure, the Lebanese state has since the 1990’s tried to eradicate the cultivation of cannabis, once a thriving multi-billion dollar business.
Farmers of the illegal crop have actively defended against substitution programs and eradication drives.