If people in the United States where to be asked on whether Lebanon has more progressive drug laws than their country, they and probably even Lebanese nationals might think that yes, Lebanon has outdated views and laws with regard to drug use.
The truth is, they don’t.
After a new ruling, Lebanon will be far more ahead of the U.S., the Middle East, and most of the other countries worldwide in terms of drug policy.
Judge Samir Hammoud, Lebanon’s State Prosecutor issued a binding ruling that orders all of the country’s prosecutors to stop taking action against people involved in drug use charges.
Hammoud’s ruling does not only affect the users of cannabis but instead every drug users in Lebanon. This makes the sovereign state one of the most progressive nations in decriminalizing substances deemed illicit in other territories.
Technically, Hammoud’s decision is not even required in the first place. Lebanon already has a law that dictates that people who were caught using illicit drugs are expected to be sent to the “Addiction Committee”.
Lebanon’s Drug Addiction Committee is the working group that decides on how to help people caught for drug offenses instead of locking them up.
In spite of this, only three percent of the drugs cases in Lebanon were actually passed to the committee since that law took effect.
Fortunately, with Judge Hammoud’s ruling, things might actually change for the better as it will force prosecutors to actually start following the law.
But this doesn’t mean that anyone in the country can go around and use cannabis or any other drugs liberally.
As of the moment, any kind of drugs, even cannabis is illegal in the country. Anyone caught using, possessing, or selling the drugs will be locked up for an investigation period.
Investigation periods can take the offenders up to four days in custody before they may be released after 48 hours of “investigation”. Enforcement officers can then have the power to renew the 48-hour period once. This could even be longer if the accused is caught on a Friday because the weekends are not counted.
Critics are even calling out and asking why huge crackdowns happen on the weekend or before holidays. They have even accused the enforcement agencies of shaking out bribes from the individuals they have caught.
Bribery and taking kickbacks for putting people in jail was and currently is a huge, multi-million-dollar industry annually for individuals working in law enforcement.
People who are caught. may have to pay several thousands of dollars per case for them to be free and to be able to see a judge.
But now that all eyes are on the issue, the corruption in the public office seems to be on the decline and could even disappear in the near future.
Organizations like Skoun are even offering their help to people who don’t know how to report corrupt officials who are taking advantage of their power.
Skoun’s mission is to assist people who have addiction problems. The organization helps their clients claim their lives back by giving them a caring and nonjudgmental environment.
They support them with personal and intimate treatment through counseling. Furthermore, they also deliver tools and teach the people who come to them with the information needed to reduce the damages they have done to themselves with harmful drugs.
Skoun is also a huge advocate for the drug policy change and increased public awareness in Lebanon.
While people can be referred to the Addiction Committee and can ask for the help of organizations like Skoun, it doesn’t mean that they won’t be fined or have to face any other punishments based on the acts they did.
But this move by Judge Hammoud was praised worldwide and many believe that Lebanon is on the right track to fully decriminalizing cannabis and other drugs.