Bouncing Back - Relapse in the Golden Triangle, a new in-depth report by the Transnational Institute (TNI) launched in Yangon, Burma/Myanmar, on Monday June 2, highlights the profound changes in the illicit drugs market in the Golden Triangle – Burma, Thailand and Laos – and neighbouring India and China over the past five years.
The growth of cannabis is gradually increasing in the fields in the Bekaa valley. This is mainly due to policies adopted by successive governments that neglected the agricultural sector, while the state has demonstrated a limited capacity to eradicate cannabis crops in the past, and mainly in the last two years. This has encouraged farmers, bearing losses and facing agriculture problems amid a lack of state assistance, protection, support and compensation, to opt for growing marijuana.
Agriculture Minister Akram Chehayeb called for the legalization of cannabis farming in Lebanon to allow the state to benefit from the revenue of its export. “We are conducting studies on [how to] organize this type of agriculture so that it becomes monitored by the state, and thus the state can buy the harvest and export it to the countries that need it,” Chehayeb said. He added that the state should end its war on cannabis farmers and find workable alternatives.
Ernestien Jensema, Martin Jelsma, Tom Kramer, Tom Blickman
01 June 2014
TNI's indepth examination of the illegal drug market in the Golden Triangle, which has witnessed a doubling of opium production, growing prison populations and repression of small-scale farmers. This report details the failure of ASEAN's 'drug free' strategy and the need for a new approach.
Walid Jumblatt has renewed calls to legalize the cultivation and sale of marijuana. The head of the Progressive Socialist Party wrote that the time has come to sanction pot and end the state's prosecution of its sellers. "It is time to allow for the cultivation of marijuana, and to drop the right to issue arrest warrants against people who work in this field," the prominent Druze leader said.
According to Jalal Mahfouz, head of the Planning and Development Center in Hermel (Lebanon), any move to legalize the illegal industry, which is believed to be worth millions of dollars, would backfire by reducing prices and demand. He argued that hashish was currently expensive because it was illegal, and that if that changed the plant’s value would plummet. He also cast doubt on the idea that the government would be able to enforce any such law – even if supportive of the industry – given its near total absence from the remote area.
The objective of this seminar is to compare the findings on innovative tools for the prevention of problematic cocaine use patterns, with experiences with harm reduction measures for stimulants in other regions of world.
This report argues that ‘drugs’ are a development issue and must be recognised as such by development agencies. The cultivation of opium poppy, coca leaf and cannabis for anything other than medical and scientific purposes is prohibited under the UN 1961 Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs, as amended by the 1972 Protocol. However conditions of marginalisation and exclusion have sustained the cultivation of these low capital input/high yield drug crops. Poverty, insecurity and inequality also exacerbate the vulnerability of ‘bridge’ states to trafficking activities. These factors are development concerns requiring economic and political solutions.