A man smokes a joint during a demonstration for the decriminalization of cannabis in France, in Paris on May 12, 2018. Thomas SAMSON / AFP
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If you are arrested for suspected drug abuse, there is now a legally binding order from one of Lebanon's highest judges recognizing your right to ask for referral to treatment instead of criminal prosecution. Monday, a day before the International Day Against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking, General Prosecutor Judge Samir Hammoud, who heads the Court of Cassation, issued a circular calling on regional public prosecutors to refer those arrested on suspected drug abuse to the National Addiction Committee. An interministerial body established five years ago and housed at the Justice Ministry, the NAC is tasked with referring suspects to treatment and overseeing that process. Additionally, Nammour said many public prosecutors and judges were either unaware of the law or chose not to implement it for a variety of reasons, including due to a belief that it only applied at later stages of judicial proceedings. In light of this, Nammour described the circular coming from the judge who sets the tone for public prosecutors across the country as "very important".
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