Jumblatt: ‘Never in my life have I smoked Marijuana, but I support it’

jumblatt worriedBeirut, Lebanon – Lebanon’s outspoken Druze leader Walid Jumblatt is the highest ranking Lebanese official to publicly support the call to legalise marijuana in Lebanon.

In a “joint statement” made on Twitter over the weekend, Jumblatt said that growing of marijuana – which is prevalent throughout much of Lebanon’s Bekaa Valley – should be liberalised and that the state should stop cracking down on marijuana farmers.

“Never in my life have I smoked marijuana, but I support growing cannabis for medical use and to improve the living conditions of farmers in north Lebanon and the Bekaa Valley,” Jumblatt told Al-Jadeed television.

“Let’s legalize cannabis and regulate its cultivation.”

In the Bekaa Valley, there are over 40,000 warrants for arrest outstanding against thousands of farmers and traffickers.

“It’s time to allow hash to be grown and to overturn arrest warrants against people sought for doing so,” the veteran politician, often dubbed a “king maker” in Lebanese politics, wrote in Arabic on his Twitter account.

History of Hashish in Lebanon

Lebanese hashish, stamped with the distinctive cedar tree symbol
Lebanese hashish, stamped with the distinctive cedar tree symbol
Lebanon remains one of the top five global producers of hashish, accounting for around 5-6% of total world supply since 2002. Global demand for cannabis and hashish is ever-increasing, and the incentive for impoverished Lebanese farmers to return to their traditional livelihood is great. Cannabis thrives in the rugged, arid Bekaa Valley with no need for irrigation or fertilisers, unlike many other plants, and is far more profitable. A hectare of cannabis may produce anything from 40-100 kg of hashish, worth €16,000-€40,000.

Lebanon is famous for producing high-quality hashish, which is exported throughout the world. Since the 1990s, the state has actively attempted to eradicate the industry, with varying degrees of success. This year, distracted border police are focusing on the conflict in Syria, leaving Lebanese growers unhindered.

Cultivation of cannabis and traditional hashish-making has occurred for centuries in Lebanon’s Bekaa Valley. In Ottoman times, the pashas that ruled over the valley encouraged the industry. Hashish was ubiquitous, and was even used as a form of currency.

In 1926, a new national constitution was drawn up and the production of hashish was outlawed. An illicit industry soon developed, and by the 1950s, business was booming.

The civil war (1975-1990) allowed the now-illicit Lebanese hashish trade to flourish, as farmers worked with various militias to produce highly-efficient, large-scale operations that enabled the production, transportation and sale of vast quantities. Hashish cultivation became widely prevalent during the country’s civil war that broke out in 1975. As the state disintegrated, marijuana farmers rose up, managing to create a thriving multi-billion-dollar business. Inevitably, the proceeds of trade were used in part to fund the operations of these militias.

However, following the end of the war in the early 1990s the international community put pressure on Lebanese authorities to root out the practice.

In 2001, Hezbollah warned the Lebanese authorities to forgo planned eradication programs in the valley—ostensibly in a bid to protect farmers’ livelihoods—and the cannabis trade began to slowly pick up speed once more.

Jumblatt Breaks Ranks in Supporting the Legalization of Weed

Jumblatt first caused a stir back in May when he unequivocally came out in favour of legalisation and stressed that such a move would help struggling farmers.

In a country deeply split between the Hezbollah-allied March 8 camp – that supports Syrian President Bashar al-Asad – and the anti-Asad March 14 camp – that opposes Hezbollah and Asad -, Jumblatt, sometimes described as a “chameleon”, has been able to make or break governments by shifting alliances.

The Bekaa is itself a primarily Shi’ite area, and many of the Hezbollah troops fighting in Syria are natives of the valley. Hezbollah is primarily funded by the Syrian regime, and as the latter’s power and wealth has been eroded by the civil war, the importance of drug capital has increased accordingly. The current annual income of the Hezbollah drug distribution network is estimated at €4.4 billion.

Lebanon is still a major supplier of hashish to Europe, Africa and the Gulf States, although its annual production is generally far lower than that of the 1980s. Despite various UN and government schemes to help farmers make the switch, the authority of the state remains weak in large parts of Lebanon and many farmers have refused to return to growing less lucrative crops.

According to cannabis growers interviewed by AFP, demand for marijuana has grown in recent years with a noticeable spike being seen since 2012, with most of Lebanon’s hashish now destined to war-torn Syria.

Middle East Eye

  • Sami F.

    Hold on Walid Baek claims to have never smoked hashish? Wow… now I know he is completely full of sh!t!

    • 5thDrawer

      Maybe not …. but for sure some burning-tyre gasses. Smoke all rises up the mountain, no? 😉

    • arzatna1

      I think he owns a prime property in the Beqaa valley that he wants to use to grow the stuff . This must be all about money for the Beik. Unlike his late father ( Kamal Jumblatt ) , he is a rich man and is known in the Shouf as Mr 50 % , because he wants for free the lion’s share in every business that comes up there without contributing a penny. I was told that several businesses didn’t get off the ground because of him.

      • MekensehParty

        That’s a perfect feudal system arzatna
        the Middle Ages live in the 21st century

  • thomas vesely

    yes, legalise………..tourism will grow……….people will laugh, all good…………

  • Voiceof thecitizens

    We are witnessing the end of cannabis prohibition around the world!

    • 5thDrawer

      The other opiates of the voting public are not working anymore … SO … increase the tax-base. 😉

    • thomas vesely


  • Super-habib

    Mabrook to him, marijuana is a part of our ancient and modern culture. The state should legalize and promote coffee shops and tourism. Why should they let Hezbollah get all the hash profits?

  • Maborlz Ez-Hari

    He sure has a good zense of humour, pfffffffffffffft never smoked the stuff pfffffffffffffffffffft. What a funny character i think him and that sleiman frangieh thing from zgharta are the biggest pot heads in the country. Wake up and stop nodding off during interviews you guys make snoop Dogg look clean.

  • Fadi Khoury

    Just imagine what Beirut would be like… cafes lit with people puffing the world’s finest product, fresher than anywhere else in the world. Lebanese Blonde for the beginners and Lebanese Red for the professionals.

    Then there’s the edibles – imagine the baklewa! This would truly revolutionize our fractured country.

    • Tony Joe

      Fadi, thank you for letting us dream for a minute. I hate to bring you back to reality, but Hezbollah would never allow Jumblatt or any other non-Iranian agent put their hand on Lebanon’s $5+billion industry. The last thing they want is tourism – they thrive on wars and destruction. Those worthless animals are Lebanon’s worst nightmare, not one that a quick high can fix.

      • 5thDrawer

        And we can dream ‘freedom’ … but the worst thing is the ‘Anti-Smoking League’ trying to get it banned from even the outdoor coffee-tables … when the tyres are burning happily just down the street. :-)))

      • Layla Ali

        If it weren’t for Hezbollah, there would be no Bekaa valley. Learn to be thankful instead of blaming them for all of Lebanon’s problems.

        • Tony Joe

          Get real Layla – Hezbollah are nothing more than a cancer that has eaten away at Lebanon.

        • MekensehParty

          wow, even geography was created by Hezbollah?
          I like hash but I never get THAT wasted!

          • 5thDrawer

            LOLOLOL .. it was a good ‘lunch’ ….. 😉

    • MekensehParty

      As much as I agree with legalizing it, I’m not sure it’s a good thing for Lebanon.
      For a country that couldn’t regulate simple services to its citizens imagine the chaos that will befall if Hash is regulated the Lebanese way. Instead of trippy downtown cafes images to upload on facebook, what if you start having street shootings between gangs of the Z3aitir and Masri clans? Can the army or police intervene without “starting a civil war”?
      Legalizing means there are laws in place. You can’t legalize in a place where there are no laws.

      • Fadi Khoury

        MP – if we were talking about legalizing weapons or something of a destructive nature, I would totally agree with you. Look at how alcohol is regulated in Lebanon – it’s not like you have street gangs controlling the flow of Stoli. It’s progressed to the point that vodka is cheaper than water, and there’s no incentive for the gangs to get in the mix.

        Plus, one would hope that these gangs would slow down and get high once in a while – who knows, they might have a come to jesus (or mohammed) moment and realize that they could be doing something much more creative with their time.

  • thomas vesely

    you legalise it, i will come and help smoke it…………………

  • MekensehParty

    “Never in my life”
    Who is this guy bulshiting?
    There were two famous big family kids of that generation that spent their time on all kind of drugs: Walid Jumblat and Ziad al Rahbani
    Maybe he didn’t smoke hash but if that nose can talk he would tell us different stories.
    Never in my life al… Probably some Druz metaphysical secret that separates lives within one life…

    • ¶•

      Have you checked that information with “Yalibnan’s Jester”?? You just can’t say whatever you want prior and without her approval !!
      No information is authentic or accurate if it doesn’t come from her !! So go seek her blessings !!

      • MekensehParty

        lol, who is she?

        • ¶•

          Hmmm guess…

          • MekensehParty

            I didn’t want to make assumptions even though one name directly jumped to mind when I read Jester.
            Must be our dear Hind

          • ¶•

            You my friend nailed it. BTW, a word of caution don’t dare call her “Butch” as she hates being called that and could get very Manly on you !! She is not averse to being called “Yalibnan’s Jester” though !!

          • MekensehParty

            poor Hind, give her a break
            she’s a Mazzeh secret experiment product and we all wish her fast recovery

          • ¶•

            That’s what we do but she relentlessly goes after us with her one sided biased diatribes. Any suggestions on that ??

  • Maborlz Ez-Hari

    His campaign strategy is clever, now he has even more DOPES voting for him.