Men work inside a factory that processes cannabis near Baalbek, December 17, 2014., Wednesday, Dec. 17, 2014. (The Daily Star/Mohammad Azakir)
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The warehouse was swirling with cannabis dust, workers with covered faces sorting the harvest that was piled in mounds.With the war in Syria stifling the economy and bringing in a flood of refugees in the Bekaa Valley, as well as the closure of smuggling roads and persistent state neglect, many of the farmers in the towns and villages near Baalbek have turned to planting cannabis, a lucrative crop.Jumblatt had also said in May that legalizing the drug would help struggling farmers in the Bekaa Valley.Nasri praised Jumblatt's call for legalizing cannabis, saying the Druze leader felt the "pain of the Bekaa" and the "hunger" of its people.A single "ho'a" of hashish, a unit of measurement that corresponds to roughly 1.2 kg, used to cost up to $1,200 in 2012 .Farmers are also squeezed because much of the hashish produced in the Bekaa Valley was never primarily targeted to customers in Lebanon. Though it is widely deployed along the border with Syria, the ex-smuggler said Hezbollah is aware of the hashish trade and is not involved in it, but said the party does not have the power to crack down on the farmers in the fiercely independent and clannish region.
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