Lebanon’s green plans: Exploring the contribution of cannabis legalisation to sustainable rural development in Lebanon
Aaraj, R. Al
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In April 2020, amid a serious financial crisis and the coronavirus pandemic, Lebanon legalised the production of cannabis for medicinal and industrial use, a first in the Arab World. This research reviews the legislation process and describes the differentiated sustainable development outcomes that this legalisation is expected to have on different affected groups. The issue of drug production and use, specifically cannabis, is increasingly being assessed from a sustainable development perspective. Both agendas are slowly converging at the global level, and this research feeds into this discussion. By conducting a desk study coupled with expert interviews and a narrative analysis of the legislation and the process of its passing, the research is divided into two phases. The first is dedicated to the sustainable development angle, and reviews lessons learned in key countries that made comparable reforms globally. The second focuses on the Lebanese context and lawmaking process to analyse the narrative that accompanies the legalisation. The study finds two types of contradictions in the legalisation. First, a disconnect between what the legislation claims to target, and what it is actually expected to result in, and second, a disconnect between the top-down law-making priorities and the actual needs of the affected groups. The research concludes that following a global trend in drug policy reform does not automatically mean positive developmental outcomes. On the contrary, this could be another move that reinforces existing power structures and social imbalances. At the local level, the research recommends the integration of this policy into a national sustainable development strategy and a national drug policy strategy rather than operating it in a separate realm.