BEIRUT: Lebanon legalized on Tuesday cannabis farming for medicinal and industrial use, two years after the idea was floated by consultancy firm McKinsey.
In a report commissioned by the government in 2018, McKinsey explored the idea of propping up the state's coffers through the export of cannabis.
Cultivating and consuming the plant is illegal in Lebanon but cannabis continues to be farmed in the Bekaa Valley where the Iranian-backed militant group Hezbollah has a strong base. The party's elected officials voted against passing the legislation.
Parliament’s decision was “really driven by economic motives, nothing else”, Alain Aoun, a senior MP in the Free Patriotic Movement founded by President Michel Aoun, told Reuters.
“We have moral and social reservations but today there is the need to help the economy by any means,” he said.
He said the move would reel in revenues for the state and prop up the agriculture sector. “We don’t want to speculate on numbers ... but let’s say it is worth a try”.
The decision makes Lebanon the first Arab country to legalize cannabis cultivation.
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