A year into the experiments with legal, taxed marijuana sales, Washington and Colorado find themselves wrestling not with the federal interference many feared, but with competition from medical marijuana or even outright black market sales.
With the war in Syria stifling the economy and bringing in a flood of refugees in the Bekaa Valley, as well as the closure of smuggling roads and persistent state neglect, many of the farmers near Baalbek have turned to planting cannabis, a lucrative crop. But growing production and tighter border controls have also caused a glut of cannabis in Lebanon, driving down prices. Calls to legalize the drug are also gaining traction. (See also: Jumblatt renews calls to legalize marijuana)
For the second year in a row, cannabis farmers in the Bekaa Valley have been able to reap their harvests without being harassed or prosecuted by the security forces. But now farmers are facing a new problem: a flooded market and falling prices. The northern Bekaa Valley has been subjected to shelling and threats of attacks by the Syrian rebels, and as a result, the Army and other security forces have been forced to concentrate their efforts on neutralizing the security and military danger posed by the rebels in this area.
Farmers in the Bekaa Valley are not ashamed of growing marijuana. It is neither a disgrace nor a mistake, “We grow it to survive” they say candidly. While some may view cannabis as an illness, farmers consider it as a cure for their problem, the same problem spreading all over the Bekaa: poverty and deprivation. The decline of marijuana profits may cause an economic problem in the Bekaa, since many families depend on planting and selling hashish to survive.
The government's decision to begin destroying cannabis farms in the Bekaa Valley has angered impoverished farmers whose livelihoods rely heavily on drug production, with doubts arising as to whether the policy can continue to be implemented amid the unstable security and political situation in Lebanon. Cannabis farmers in the area have previously vowed to defend their crops with their lives.
With the fruits of its labor turning up in Italy, Greece and, last year, Germany, Albania has come under increasing pressure from the European Union to crack down on cannabis production in Lazaret long considered untouchable, out of reach of the law thanks to a web of corrupt connections to the police and politicians. Albania hopes to get approval later this month from each of the EU’s 28 member states to become an official candidate for inclusion in the group. Crime and corruption are sure to be top of the list of issues that must be resolved before it can join.
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.
Legalising and taxing cannabis could be worth as much as £1.25bn a year to the government, a study suggests. The report Licensing and regulation of the cannabis market in England and Wales: towards a cost-benefit analysis, quantifies the revenue to be gained from the regulation and taxation of the cannabis market in England and Wales. It estimates that reduced enforcement costs, such as police, court and prison time and community sentences, could save £300m or more alone, with the remaining three-quarters of the net benefit come from tax revenue.
This study brings together available evidence to provide a comprehensive analysis of cannabis production and markets across the EU. It combines information from EMCDDA routine reporting — data on patterns of prevalence and use, seizures, police reports, drug-law offences, cannabis potency and retail market prices — with literature on cannabis markets to create an in-depth analysis of the issue in a European context.
Police discovered more than 20 cannabis farms and factories in the UK every day last year, seizing drugs worth up to £100 million, according to a report by the Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO). Criminals attempt to reduce risk and minimise potential losses by employing a large number of so-called "gardeners" to manage smaller farms across residential neighbourhoods. A total of 7,865 farms were found across the UK in 2011/2012, an increase of 15 percent from the 6,866 found in 2009/2010 and up more than 150 percent from the 3,032 found four years ago, the ACPO study found.