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How Cannabis Could Transform Lebanon

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A member of Lebanon’s caretaker cabinet said that the country is considering to legalize the cultivation as well as the exportation of cannabis.

McKinsey & Co., an American management consulting company created a report that projects the revitalization of Lebanon’s struggling economy.

One of the noteworthy recommendations the global consulting company made for the country was that it should legalize the cultivation of cannabis. They suggested that they should also start exporting marijuana for medical purposes.

Minnesota Marijuana Study

Raed Khoury, Lebanon’s Minister of Economy and Trade commented on the roadmap created by McKinsey & Co. saying that legal cannabis could become worth a $1 billion industry for the country in an interview with Bloomberg News.

In that article, Khoury also added that he believes that the cannabis in their country is the best in the world. Although he said the implementation of the plan of McKinsey would be a hard one, Lebanon will still have to face a “major economic turmoil”.

Lebanon: One of the World’s Major Cannabis Producer

It is not a secret that this Middle Eastern nation has an underground cannabis industry. Cannabis growers and even drug gang bosses have spoken publicly about their trade not only in the local but also in international media outlets.

Although some Lebanese are very open with their trade, the cultivation, consumption, and sale of cannabis remain illegal in the country.
Law enforcement officers routinely incarcerate users for possessing small quantities.

Cannabis is most commonly consumed in Lebanon in its resin form commonly called as hashish.
A report published in 2016 by the United Nations’ Office on Drugs and Crime listed the country in the world’s top five producers of cannabis resin.

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Ways to Hide the Smell of Cannabis

With cannabis running rampant and unchecked in the country, some Lebanese politicians have called for legalization in the past.

Walid Joumblatt, a former minister and member of the parliament has been one of the most prominent advocates of the legalization.

Also the leader of the Progressive Socialist Party, he has repeatedly called for the country to make cannabis legal.

In 2016, Markwan Iskander, an economist was interviewed by BBC regarding the topic and he suggested that there could be both an opportunity for jobs and a substantial increase in the national income once cannabis is legalized.

Iskander also proposed that this could be an opportunity to hire the 1.5 million refugees that are currently in Lebanon.

Other Factors of The McKinsey & Co. RoadMap

In addition, making cannabis legal in Lebanon, the one thousand page report by McKinsey also recommends that the country, which is also the world’s 3rd most indebted nation, must focus on several other propositions which the firm classifies as “quick wins”.

On top of cannabis, McKinsey’s report also encourages Lebanon to widen its cultivation of avocados and look for new markets where they can sell their agricultural products.

In that interview with Bloomberg, Khoury also explained that the McKinsey report also advises his country to set up a construction zone for prefabricated shelters to be used in the reconstruction of the war-ravaged Iraq and Syria, build wealth-management and investment-banking hubs, and boost tourism all over the country.

Michel Aoun, Lebanon’s president commented on the plan and said that it would contribute “to the development of an integrated and coordinated vision among the various productive sectors in the country”. According to Lebanon’s official National News Agency, Aoun said that the plan would help the economy of his country to develop in a sustainable manner as it copes with the demanding economic climates of the 21st century both regionally and globally.

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Shifts in the Worldwide Sentiments on Cannabis

Earlier this June, Canada became the second country in the world to legalize the adult use of cannabis. It is also the first of the G-7 countries, which consists of the nations with the seven largest advanced economies in the world, to do so. Uruguay was the first nation that had legalized and regulated the adult use of cannabis in 2013.

A lot of countries across Europe, and all over the world have started acting on making cannabis legal for medical uses in the recent years.

In the United States, cannabis is completely illegal under the federal law but is legal for medical use in 30 states, and recreational use in nine states.

Economic analysts suggest that the decision by Canada to fully legalize cannabis in October will be the major game changer for how the international community deals with and view the production and consumption of cannabis.

Same goes with Lebanon if they indeed follow the recommendation from McKinsey.

Khoury made it clear that all the factors of the plan prepared by the international consulting firm are interrelated. But as what the experts have said to Bloomberg, the problem of corruption plus the country’s dysfunctional political system will be some of the major roadblocks to its implementation.

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