Lebanon makes largest ever cannabis drug bust

Workers cultivate plants at a cannabis plantation in the village of Yammouneh in Lebanon's eastern Bekaa Valley on July 23, 2018.. The sun-soaked cannabis fields stretch to the horizon, just out of reach of a nearby army checkpoint. Its production is lucrative in Lebanon, but growers fear legalising its medical use could slash profits. (File/AFP)
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Updated 10 April 2020

Lebanon makes largest ever cannabis drug bust

  • The Mediterranean country on March 15 announced a lockdown to stop the spread of COVID-19
  • Security forces regularly bust attempted drug exports at Beirut airport and have destroyed marijuana fields

BEIRUT: Lebanon’s security forces said Friday they had made their largest cannabis seizure in history last month, unearthing 25 tons of the drug intended for Africa.
The Mediterranean country on March 15 announced a lockdown to stop the spread of COVID-19, which has now officially infected 609 and killed 20 nationwide.
On March 16, the Internal Security Forces stopped “eight trucks headed to the Beirut port carrying thousands of plastic bags of soil,” the security branch said.
After inspection, “huge quantities of hashish reaching around 25 tons were seized... that had been professionally hidden inside bags of soil,” it said in a statement.
“This quantity is the largest seized in the history of Lebanon,” it added, and had been intended for “an African country.”
The marijuana came in a variety of kinds including “Beirut mood,” “Spring flower,” or even “Kiki do you love me,” the ISF said.
Consuming, growing and selling marijuana is illegal in Lebanon, but in the marginalized east of the country its production blossomed during the 1975-1990 civil war.
Authorities have since struggled to clamp down on the trade and its production has turned into a multi-million-dollar business.
In 2016, the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime ranked Lebanon as the third main source of cannabis resin after Morocco and Afghanistan, which are both much larger.
Security forces regularly bust attempted drug exports at Beirut airport and have destroyed marijuana fields.
But growers have fought back, protesting over a lack of alternatives for their livelihoods. In 2012, they fired rockets at army bulldozers trying to raze their crop.
Since 2018, lawmakers have however been considering legalizing the drug for medical purposes to give a boost to Lebanon’s ailing economy.


Algerian parliament vote ‘before year’s end’

Algerians walk across from the People's National Assembly (parliament) building during a voting session on constitutional reforms in the capital Algiers, on September 10, 2020. (AFP)
Updated 22 September 2020

Algerian parliament vote ‘before year’s end’

  • The term of the widely discredited current lower house, elected in 2017, was originally set to end in May 2022

ALGIERS: The Algerian president says early legislative elections aimed at opening parliament to civil society will be held before the end of the year to give a new face to a parliament long dominated by a single party.

Abdelmadjid Tebboune did not set a date but indicated on Sunday evening that the parliamentary voting would follow a national referendum on a constitutional revision to be held Nov. 1, a highly symbolic date marking the start of this North African nation’s seven-year war with France for independence that began Nov. 1, 1954.
The next National Assembly, the lower house of parliament, which “will be made up of lawmakers from universities, civil society, will serve as the base of the ‘New Algeria,’” Tebboune said in an interview with two Algerian newspapers.
“If the people want change, it is time to work to not remain in the ambiguity that prevailed earlier.”
Tebboune was referring to the corruption that highlighted the 20 years of power of Abdelaziz Bouteflika, forced to resign in April 2019 amid growing peaceful street protests and a push from the then-Army chief Ahmed Gaid Salah, who died in December.

If the people want change, it is time to work to not remain in the ambiguity that prevailed earlier.

Abdelmadjid Tebboune, President of Algeria

Tebboune was elected promising change, including a new parliament, though the vote was largely boycotted by the protest movement, the Hirak.
The term of the widely discredited current lower house, elected in 2017, was originally set to end in May 2022.
A new electoral law foreseen in the constitutional revision “will put in place safeguards to keep dirty money out of politics,” the president said, adding that with the constitutional revision Algeria would “truly be at the service of the citizen and not at the service of a group exercising domination.”
Numerous business leaders and two prime ministers have been jailed on corruption charges since the downfall of Bouteflika. During a trial last week, lawmaker Baha Eddine Tliba admitted to paying the former chief of the powerful FLN party Djamel Ould Abbas, to be placed on his list of candidates to ensure him a parliamentary seat.