420 with CNW – Lebanon Legalizes Medical Cannabis Amid Coronavirus Economic Hardships

April 24, 2020 16:20:03

One of the most compelling reasons for the legalization of marijuana has been to earn tax revenue from sales. Arguably the most used drug, it is subject to constant demand, and governments can tap into this wealth of resources. States such as Colorado with thriving marijuana programs have pulled in close to $1 billion from legal marijuana sales.

And with the coronavirus sweeping through the world and wreaking havoc on the global economy, some experts have said legalizing marijuana could be a good way to kickstart the economy. Lebanon, it seems, has taken this advice to heart. This week, the Lebanese government passed legislation to legalize cannabis cultivation for medical and industrial reasons.

The country’s economy had been struggling even before the coronavirus outbreak, and the crisis only exacerbated an already dire situation. According to lawmakers who supported the bill, their decision was “driven by economic motives, nothing else.”

“We have moral and social reservations, but today there is the need to help the economy by any means,” said Alain Aoun, a senior MP in the Free Patriotic Movement.

Despite being illegal before the legislation was passed, cannabis was being grown openly in the fertile and impoverished Bekaa Valley. The United Nations states that the country is the world’s third-largest supplier of cannabis resin, or hashish, after Morocco and Afghanistan. With the new legislation in place, the country will now proceed with regulating the already existing cultivation efforts and halt all unlawful production.

Recreational use will remain illegal, however. The new legislation will enable Lebanon to build a multi-million dollar legal cannabis industry that produces pharmaceutical items such as CBD oil, wellness products as well as industrial products like fibers for textiles.

In 2018, the Lebanese government hired New York-based global consulting company McKinsey & Co to advise the country on how to address its spiraling economy. McKinsey suggested legalizing marijuana, estimating that a legal cannabis sector could generate as much as $1 billion annually.

Legalization activists have raised some concerns about the measure, stating that they feel it doesn’t go far enough. Recreational cannabis use should also be decriminalized, they say.

The move to legalize marijuana has been met with opposition from Lebanese party Hezbollah. According to Hilal Khashan, a professor of political studies and public administration at the American University of Beirut, legalizing cannabis would not be nearly enough to address the country’s economic concerns. He adds that the government may be unable to successfully implement the law, given Hezbollah’s opposition.

“Hezbollah is a primary beneficiary of cannabis trafficking. The only way for Hezbollah to accept the ratification of the law is to be directly involved in its implementation, that is, get its share from it,” he says.

Experts believe that despite the opposition from some sections of the political class, North American cannabis sector actors like Sugarmade Inc. (OTCQB: SGMD) may be pleased that the Lebanese people will soon have the option of using medical marijuana to address their health and wellness needs.

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