It is no secret I am a huge proponent of marijuana, cannabis, hashish, pot, dope, buddha, ganja, pot, hisham, walid or whatever the hell you call what you smoke. It is no secret either that I don’t smoke or eat marijuana plants in Lebanon, for fear of brutal, human-rights abusive and inhumane treatment by Lebanon’s police and judiciary… Something tens of thousands of young Lebanese folks have suffered from since the late 90s, with the viciousness and horrific practices by governmental institutions skyrocketing in frequency and audacity in the past 24 months, as highlighted in this Human Rights Watch report.
This is unacceptable for many reasons, be it from the legal, medical, social, cultural, historic, economic and even national security interests of Lebanon.
It is very important before going forward that this is in support of decriminalizing marijuana/cannabis, not other drugs. This is a problem in Lebanon because most illegal substances are referred to as “hashish” by uninformed individuals, thanks to the same word applying for both a recreational marijuana user, and a heavy drug addict: “Heshesh/Hesheshe” whether it’s harmless weed, or fatal heroin. So, again, this is just for marijuana, not other dangerous drugs like cocaine, heroin, amphetamines, etc.
1- Prohibition is Not Working
Despite the theatrics every year of the army and ISF “clearing out” marijuana fields in the Bekaa, we all know that the farmers are planting more than ever before, and that the cartels are thriving, and thus have become more emboldened, than ever before. We also know that the only people ever caught are either foreign nationals (when its dealers/drug mules) and innocent, young individuals utilized for bribe money the judiciary police and Lebanese judiciary thrives on unfortunately.
It’s not working, so why waste our resources, people’s lives and encourage corruption for something many, and I do mean many, Lebanese are doing anyway with no harm done.
2- Lebanese People Are For Decriminalization
A poll I ran late last year had 3147 respondents, and the question asked was: “Are You For Legalizing Marijuana in Lebanon?” The results were a whopping 85% for those “absolutely” supporting, 8% “maybe” and only 7% “never” (original post). This poll came over a year after I asked you guys about your marijuana smoking habits, to which 1232 respondents said that 39.2% smoke regularly, 19.2% occasionally, 28% would never try and the remaining respondents wouldn’t mind trying it (original post).
Even the former government, especially former Interior Minister Marwan Charbel, sort of gave the weed farmers a break. For several reasons, for one, the government is too weak and the cartels and clans too strong to be confronted. For two, the government has promised compensation and alternative crops for weed farmers for years, failing each and every time to actually keep their promises, prompting farmers to go back to growing cannabis, with a determination to get the government’s bulldozers off their fields, whatever the cost.
3- Weed is Good For You
Marijuana is a medicine. A very old, reliable, versatile and safe one. From nausea and vomiting, to HIV/AIDS, cancer, multiple sclerosis, dementia, epilepsy, diabetes, glaucoma, Tourette’s Syndrome and many, many more diseases are remedied, or their symptoms allayed by marijuana. Whether vaporized, smoked, eaten, drunk or used topically, marijuana and marijuana extracts are the miracle drug that have the ability to drastically improve people in pain’s lives, helps prevent forms of cancer like lung cancer and could even heal other types of cancer like melanoma (skin cancer).
Weed is a natural medicine, one used throughout history, especially for pain management. With every passing day, more and more research is corroborating the medical benefits of marijuana and dispelling the lies and misinformation that have ruined marijuana use and progress for generations. If you think this isn’t serious research already saving and changing lives, just look at these entire US families moving as “refugees” into Colorado to get their severely sick children’s lives saved by marijuana. (also, check out Dr. Sanjay Gupta’s series WEED on CNN, who was a vehement opponent of marijuana, but is now a major supporter)
4- Loss of Faith and Respect in the ISF
With a highly educated sizable part of Lebanon’s youth, it’s not surprising that 85% of the readers of this blog are strongly for legalization. Even in the country’s disadvantaged regions like the Bekaa, farmers that might not have had a chance at exploring the academic benefits of marijuana, know that this plant is the only peaceful, harmless method for them to earn a living for their families, neglected by a heavily indebted, crippled government. So, regardless of the severe rift between Lebanon’s “upper and middle class” and “working class”, all three are for easing up on marijuana laws and crackdowns, whether in terms of using the plant, or producing it.
Most people also lose respect for Lebanon’s police, even anger and defiance, seeing the officers they want to trust, make no effort to secure citizens’ lives from violent clashes and terrorist attacks, but spare no expense to entrap and blackmail harmless marijuana users. In a country where faith in the government and its institutions is already rock-bottom low, increasing the angst many if not most people have towards the police by unfairly entrapping and brutally and selectively enforcing marijuana crackdowns makes things worse: police become the stuff you want to avoid, even fear, instead of trust and respect.
5- Why Should Israel be the World Leader in Medicinal Marijuana Research?!
Most of Europe has decriminalized or even legalized recreational marijuana use, and most US states now allow medicinal use of cannabis and states like Washington and Colorado completely legalized it for recreational use as well. Unfortunately, several reasons such as federal bureaucracy and lack of funding, have made serious research into marijuana still very minimal in the West.
Israel on the other hand, is lightyears ahead when it comes to medical marijuana research and use. I don’t see why Israel should get all the benefits and glory of this revitalized field of medicine, when we can easily do it just as well and even better with Lebanon’s long history of above-average cannabis, rich in THC which is so valuable in many medical applications. So, instead of selling Israelis weed over the border, let’s beat them at their game.
6- We Coined The Term Hashish
Many people don’t know that many words in English trace back to Arabic. One example is “Alcohol” -> Al Koohool (الكحول). Or, “Elixir” “Al-Ixsir” from the alchemy days. Another important one is “Assassin” which many people believe comes in a reference to the-often high killers sent to murder prominent enemies: “The Hashashins” eventually became “Assassins”. Of course, that cannot be completely confirmed, and some suggest the Arabic root is “Asass” which means “Foundation/Origin”, but was misunderstood by foreigners as Hashish. Regardless, it was a something deeply rooted in our history, and it’s sad that many places around the world celebrate it, and the people who made use of it most efficiently (us), vilify it today in legal terms.
7- It’s Not Addictive or a “Gateway Drug”
I’ve smoked a lot of Marijuana in my life outside Lebanon, and I very easily stop when I move back to Lebanon, (even though I hate being forced to). No one is addicted to marijuana. No one has ever overdosed on marijuana. Research has categorically demonstrated marijuana is substantially less addictive and harmful than fully legal alcohol and tobacco.
Read all the literature. Study the science. The old lies and misconceptions about weed need to stop now, and we have a lot of catching up to do…
8- Less Abused if Legal
“El mamnoo3, marghoob”, in other words, something being illegal makes it all the more appealing to obtain. Trials around the world have corroborated that, with examples such as Amsterdam’s, and the more radical decriminalization of all types of drugs more than a decade ago in Portugal, has more than halved drug abuse and addiction in the tiny southern country.
9- Gets Money Into The Right Hands
Drug dealers in Lebanon are powerful. Many prominent Lebanese political parties make money off the illegal drug trade, which allows armed factions and clans to form ruthless cartels that end up acting like feudal lords hailed by local communities for providing the services and needs the government is unable to provide.
Legalizing marijuana, means taxing it, and that’s great news for all the good guys. For one, the price will drop for the average weed user, who pays a lot of money for mediocre weed because of all the danger involved. Even though it’s cheaper, a big part of it will be tax for the state, which is in desperate need of filling its coffers raped brutally for decades by rampant and rudely obvious corruption.
Let’s not get excited about oil and gas 10 years down the line… We can start making millions by next fall…
If anyone tells you they’re going to Amsterdam for the architecture, they’re probably an architecture student using an excuse to go smoke good kush in the Dutch capital. Everyone goes to Amsterdam for the liberal cannabis use, and that’s sad, cause there are so many cool things in that city too, like the clubs =P.
Lebanon can be that. Our indigenous weed is world-famous and much-sought-after worldwide. Imagine how many lower-budget, younger tourists we’d attract… Backpackers who come to try our weed, listen to our music and party on our slopes and beaches.
11- It’s Your Choice
No one has the right to tell you what you can and cannot do to yourself. As long as you’re not actually harming anyone, it’s no one’s business. Weed brings out the good in people. It mellows them out, makes them more creative. Personally, some of my best work has been done high and I focus a lot better after a joint. I also prefer it immensely over alcohol. So, back off and let people enjoy themselves.
Here’s a video of my beautiful self tackling this post in Lebanese Arabic for those of you who aren’t in the mood to read so much.