Article: The Colonial Legacy of Drug Control in Lebanon Michelle Wazan May 24, 2024

Legalising cannabis cultivation

The latest episode of the neo-colonial “show” came in 2020, after the country’s financial meltdown, when the Lebanese Parliament passed law 178/2020. The law, which has yet to be implemented, legalised the cultivation of cannabis for medical and industrial purposes. It created a licensing system that gives growing rights to companies, who can employ individuals with no past drug-related convictions, effectively preventing traditional cultivators from participating in the industry.

The law also only allowed for the planting of specific cannabis strains that are “medically certified” over the cannabis strains endemic to the nation and region. Lastly, the law is mainly geared towards export of cannabis towards Western markets; the plant’s use remains criminalised in Lebanon, with policymakers having failed to reclassify it nationally as a medical substance. This law illustrates the ongoing legacy of colonial drug policies; reform remains geared towards fulfilling Western market forces and its changing legality around controlled substances, while maintaining punitive systems of drug criminalisation in producing nations. Countries like Lebanon must meanwhile remain compliant with global prohibition to guarantee access to international funding.

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The Colonial Legacy of Drug Control in Lebanon


Michelle Wazan

Michelle Wazan is the Drug Policy and Advocacy Department Manager at Skoun, Lebanese Addictions Center. She holds degrees in political science and international law and advocates for drug policy reform in Lebanon.

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