The Lebanese parliament has approved a law that allows the cultivation of cannabis for medical purposes, according to media reports.
Lebanon joins other countries that have legalized medical cannabis in recent years with the aim of attracting foreign investment and boosting the economy.
However, cross-border shipments of medical cannabis remain modest.
The Lebanon vote – taken this week, Reuters reported – apparently puts Lebanon on track to be the first Arab nation to legalize cannabis in some form.
The law was voted on amid demonstrations against “worsening economic and social conditions in the country.”
The law allows the cultivation of cannabis with only up to 1% THC – in other words, “types of cannabis plants that have not traditionally been cultivated in Lebanon,” according to Al Jazeera.
According to Newsweek, the new law also applies to cannabis grown for industrial purposes.
The legalization of medical cannabis stems from a recommendation that global consulting firm McKinsey & Co. made to Lebanon’s cabinet in 2018 to improve the economy.
At the time, Lebanon’s minister of economy and trade projected legalization could add up to about $1 billion annually to Lebanon’s economy.
Lebanon is one of the top producers of illegal marijuana – especially cannabis resin – in the world, according to the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime.
Illicit cannabis is known to be grown particularly in the Bekaa Valley region, where Hezbollah has a large influence.
Very few countries regularly import meaningful quantities of legal medical cannabis.
Germany is believed to be the largest importer of medical cannabis in the world, with about 6,500 kilograms (14,330 pounds) of flower imported in 2019, all from developed countries Canada, the Netherlands and Portugal.
Only a handful of producers have managed to effectively comply with the stringent quality requirements to get their products in German pharmacies.
The trend of international cannabis companies wanting to have a production asset in every possible market seems to be coming to an end.
An example is Canopy Growth’s recent decision to shut down cultivation assets in different continents.