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The Lebanese Parliament on Tuesday approved a draft law that legalizes cannabis cultivation in Lebanon for medical and industrial use, as the country’s hard-hit economy teeters on the brink of collapse.

The new legislation aims to regulate cultivation by Lebanese cannabis farmers, whose activities are illegal according to existing Lebanese law.

The law also aims to create a new agro-industry in the country which will lead to the production of industrial products – such as fiber that that can replace polyester and be used for textiles – pharmaceutical products, and wellness products from CBD oil which stems from the cannabis plant.

At a time when the country’s economy is collapsing, the new law has the potential of stimulating the economy with the creation of a new industry, and new products for export.

A report published in 2018 by International consultancy firm McKinsey & Co. estimated the country’s cannabis production value at around $4 billion.

A regulatory authority which falls under the purview of the presidency of the Cabinet will be overseeing the enforcement of this law and will also be issuing permits for activities ranging from the cultivation of the plant, to transporting, producing, storing, selling and distributing it. Only permit holders will be able to work under this new law.

This has drawn criticism and has left many concerned as it leaves room for corruption, since the source of funding for this authority will not come from the government’s budget, but from permit fees, which potentially could create a conflict of interest.

Other concerns over the law include not amending the punishments and penalties for recreational use – which still remains illegal under the new law – for example, where many lawyers and activists alike have proposed for rehabilitation programs instead of imprisonment.

Daily Star

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