By Timour Azhari / Aljazeera
Lebanon's parliament is set to vote on a law that would legalise the cultivation of cannabis for medical and industrial use in an effort to boost its crippled economy and curb illicit production of the psychoactive plant.
The draft law, which has been endorsed by parliamentary committees and is now headed for a final vote, would only affect cannabis that contains less than one percent of the psychoactive compound tetrahydrocannabidinol, or THC.
THC gives cannabis the recreational effects that have made it the most widely used illicit substance across the globe. The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that around 147 million people, or 2.5 percent of the world population, consume cannabis.
Lebanon has cultivated the plant for at least 100 years and produces large amounts of hashish, a sticky, sweet-smelling derivative of the cannabis plant that looks like chocolate. Though illegal to produce, sell or use, it is widely available locally and is also illegally exported.
Lebanese hashish can be found in European capitals, and formerly made up about 80 percent of the world's supply during the country's civil war years (1975-90) when cultivation was at its peak.
Instead of dealing with that market, this bill would seek to create a new one involving types of cannabis plants that have not traditionally been cultivated in Lebanon.