BEIRUT: Agriculture Minister Akram Chehayeb Friday called for the legalization of cannabis farming to allow the state to benefit from the revenue of its export.
“We are conducting studies on [how to] organize this type of agriculture so that it becomes monitored by the state, and thus the state can buy the harvest and export it to the countries that need it,” Chehayeb said in a morning interview with a local radio station.
“This agricultural product is in demand worldwide for pharmaceutical production.”
Chehayeb said the state should end its war on cannabis farmers and find workable alternatives.
“Instead of prosecuting the farmers, let’s find other solutions for them,” he said. “The planting of cannabis must be organized to benefit the state and the industrial sector, and it is one way of helping the farmers.”
For many poor villages in east Lebanon, the cultivation and sale of marijuana has for decades been the primary source of revenue.
Upon pressure by international donors and foreign states, Lebanon launched a crackdown on the farmers after the end of the Civil War.
The government then attempted to implement alternative agriculture projects to encourage the farmers to grow fruits and vegetables instead.
However, the projects had little impact on the local farmers, who attempt to go back to planting cannabis whenever they have a chance.
MP Walid Jumblatt, head of the Progressive Socialist Party to which Chehayeb belongs, has also called for the legalization of cannabis cultivation.