Growing the plant is illegal in Lebanon but cannabis has long been farmed openly in the fertile Bekaa Valley.
The Lebanese parliament legalised cannabis farming for medicinal use on Tuesday, a potentially lucrative export for an economy in dire need of foreign currency as it grapples with a paralysing financial crisis.
Although growing the plant is illegal in Lebanon, cannabis has long been farmed openly in the fertile Bekaa Valley.
#Lebanon legalizes cannabis production for medical and industrial purposes only.— Luna Safwan - لونا صفوان (@LunaSafwan) April 21, 2020
A joint is still illegal.
Yes you will still be fined and jailed if you were found to be in position of Marijuana.
Seriously Lebanon READ BEFORE YOU TWEET. pic.twitter.com/iFtkJH7WYp
Parliament's decision was "really driven by economic motives, nothing else", said Alain Aoun, a senior MP in the Free Patriotic Movement founded by President Michel Aoun. "We have moral and social reservations but today there is the need to help the economy by any means," he said.
The move would bring revenue for the government and develop the agricultural sector while legalising cultivation which was in any case going on illegally, he said. "We don't want to speculate on numbers ... but let's say it is worth a try."
Hezbollah, a Shia militant group backed by Iran, was one of the only parties to oppose the legislation approved in a session on Tuesday.
The idea of legalising cannabis cultivation with the aim of producing high value-added medicinal products for export was explored in a report by consultancy firm McKinsey commissioned by Lebanon in 2018.
Last month, Lebanese police carried out the country's biggest drug bust when they seized about 25 tonnes of hashish that were set to be smuggled to an African state.