Lebanon has decriminalized growing marijuana for medical purposes, as well as industrial use, becoming the first country in the Arab world to make the move.
The bill passed the country’s parliament on Tuesday, April 21, in the hopes of bringing economic relief to Lebanon, which has a public debt totaling approximately $90 billion, almost double the amount of its gross domestic product.
The new law allows for cannabis growing by farmers under the government’s regulations. The sector had already been widely active in the country, especially in eastern Bekaa Valley region, despite being illegal.
However, the legalization does not include the recreational use of marijuana.
Two years ago, New York-based management consulting firm McKinsey & Company had recommended that Lebanon should legalize the cultivation of cannabis to save itself from financial troubles.
The legal cannabis industry is now expected to generate an annual revenue of around $1 billion.
Lebanon has been dealing with its hardest-ever financial crisis, mainly caused by years-long corruption.
Last month, Lebanese Prime Minister Hassan Diab announced in a televised speech that his government had decided to suspend a bond payment of $1.2 billion due on March 9, saying its foreign currency reserves plummeted and were needed for basic needs of its citizens.