While the struggle for marijuana legalization is being fought here at home, across the world citizens and leaders alike are tiring of seeing nonviolent marijuana users jailed for the possession of a non-addictive, generally safe substance. Even those hearkening from a more conservative stance are beginning to see the economic value that legalizing marijuana can offer to local and national economies. Aside from the benefit of adding a huge injection of tax revenue dollars to the economy, repealing the illicit status of marijuana helps to steer millions of dollars away from the pockets of criminal enterprises.
Lebanon’s Druze population is now being heard nationally and globally on the contentious issue of marijuana legalization. Walid Jumblatt, the Lebanese leader of the Druze Progressive Socialist Party, took to Twitter over the weekend to announce his support for the legalization of the cultivation of marijuana. In his statement, he voiced his support for overturning warrants issued for the arrest of those growing hash. He reasons that decriminalizing the cultivation and use of cannabis will lead to improved living conditions for farmers residing in impoverished valley areas of Lebanon.
“It’s time to allow hash to be grown and to overturn arrest warrants against people sought for doing so.”
During the Lebanese Civil War, which lasted from 1975 to 1990, drug smuggling was a booming business. In fact, this illicit market generated hundreds of millions of dollars that funded violence, human rights violations and the deaths of thousands of innocents. As the war progressed and the state fragmented, militias increasingly organized their cannabis production to fund further fighting.
Lebanon is world famous for producing large quantities of high quality cannabis. The plant thrives in the rugged, arid valleys of northern Lebanon. Cannabis is a dependable cash crop for economically depleted rural communities that have few other options for generating income. The wealth of these rural areas has been slowly eroded over decades of civil and political unrest.
Jumblatt, who is careful to note that he himself has never partaken of marijuana, is a staunch supporter of legalization to aid struggling farming communities. With many farmers refusing to grow less valuable crops than marijuana, Lebanon may very well be at a legislative crossroads. Since a large majority of farmers completely disregard current laws regarding the illicit status of marijuana, the Lebanese government would be wise to consider Jumblatt’s viewpoint. Ruffling feathers and breaking ranks is not foreign behavior to Jumblatt, who is famous for his notoriously shifting political alliances.
The current Syrian conflict unfortunately has no end in sight. The Lebanese state has lost focus on enforcing marijuana prohibition laws, instead choosing to concentrate their military and police power on border security. Since the eruption of the Syrian conflict in 2012, demand for cannabis has risen exponentially. Not surprisingly, much of the new demand is coming from across the border in Syria. It is obvious that large amounts of unregulated marijuana are being used as currency in the Syrian conflict. If Jumblatt has his way and is able to introduce marijuana decriminalization and government regulation, perhaps the funding of the war can be partially disrupted.
Photo Credit: Alalam.ir