History of CBD and Cannabis: Lebanon
Bordered by Syria to the north and Israel to the south, Lebanon sits at the crossroads between the Arabian hinterland and Mediterranean Basin. With a rich history and ethnic diversity, it’s no wonder that the West Asian country has a complex relationship with cannabis that spans back hundreds of years.
Though it’s unclear whether or not cannabis was used by the earliest settlers of the area, it’s well known that the advent of the Silk Road introduced many strains of Central Asian cannabis to the region.
Cannabis, CBD, and Lebanon
Currently, cannabis for recreational, medical, and industrial use is illegal in Lebanon. However, that doesn’t mean the country isn’t slowly moving towards cannabis decriminalization and legalization measures.
Despite cannabis’ illicit status, marijuana and hemp are both grown in large amounts in nearly every community. Lebanon features a moderate, balmy Mediterranean climate, which is amenable to cannabis growth since extensive irrigation isn’t needed.
Moreover, winters are cool and rainy while summers are hot and humid, which keeps cannabis production occurring year round. Most cannabis is produced in cultivated near the Western mountain range and in rural communities where law enforcement agencies turn a blind eye.
Possible Change to Cannabis Law on the Horizon
Recently, Parliament speaker Nabih Berri released a statement claiming that cannabis ought to be studied and adopted as necessary in Lebanon. “The [parliament] is preparing to study the legislation necessary to [support] the cultivation of cannabis … for medical uses in the manner of many European countries,” he stated.
So, why are Lebanon officials suddenly willing to jump onto cannabis reform? Studies of neighboring states have shown that cannabis could produce an extreme growth in statewide revenue. By contrast, penalization has consistently resulted in economic losses for the state of Lebanon when considering the extra law enforcement resources needed, burden of imprisoning nonviolent drug offenders, and cost of crop eradication.
With one of the highest governmental debts in the world, Lebanon officials are now willing to create a legal cannabis market.
Interestingly, some cannabis cultivators are opposed to legalization measures, since the high government tax rate could cut into grower profits.
Another reason why Lebanon is more amenable to reform than its Arab neighbors is due to the country’s ties with Western European nations. Since 1945, Lebanon has been a member of the United Nations and, during its economic heyday, the country was affectionately dubbed the “Switzerland of the East”.
After the sixties, the country rapidly tailspun into widespread economic decline. Western investors, financial centers, and other specialized industries rapidly disappeared. Cannabis represents a way for the country to regain its financial footing.