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Who is world's top cannabis producer?

earthThe United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) last week issued its World Drug Report 2017—its 20th annual survey of production, trafficking and eradication and enforcement efforts around the globe. In past years, the report has sought to quantify the amount of cannabis cultivated in each producer country—over the past decade consistently placing Morocco in first place, generally followed by Mexico and Paraguay. This general trend continues—with some new variations.

Syrian hashish harvest workers stranded in Lebanon

Posted on December 28th, 2015 by Bill Weinberg and tagged , , , , .

Middle EastWe noted a year ago that ISIS was burning the cannabis fields in its areas of control in Syria (even as reports mount that the entire "Islamic State" army is hyped up on speed). In Lebanon's hashish haertland of the Bekaa Valley, meanwhile, cannabis growers have been arming to defend their turf, crops and livelihood in case ISIS invades. Now, both Reuters and National Public Radio have run reports over the past week on the plight of seasonal migrant laborers who come from Syria to the Bekaa to help harvest cannabis and produce hashish—activities just winding down now. But those who have come this year from the Syrian province of Raqqa cannot return home. Raqqa is now controlled by ISIS, its eponymous provinicial capital the de facto capital of the "Islamic State." And if word got out that these migrant laborers had worked in the hashish industry, they'd be marked for death.

Saudi prince in Beirut airport mega-bust

Posted on October 27th, 2015 by Bill Weinberg and tagged , , , .

Middle EastWell this is rich. Just one month after a Qatari diplomat was busted for hashish smuggling at Egypt's main airport, AFP news service now reports that Saudi Arabia's Prince Abdel Mohsen bin Walid Bin Abdulaziz and four companions were detained at Beirut International Airport in what Lebanese authorities are calling the biggest bust in the facility's history. The prince was popped while "attempting to smuggle about two tons of Captagon pills and some cocaine," a security source told AFP. The source said the drugs had been packed into cases that were waiting to be loaded onto a private plane headed to Saudi Arabia—a whopping 40 suitcases full of Captagon, according to Lebanese media accounts.

Lebanon legalization push

Posted on February 3rd, 2015 by Bill Weinberg and tagged , , , , .

Middle EastWalid Jumblatt is a name that was frequently in the news when Lebanon's civil war was raging back in the 1980s. The longtime leader of the Druze ethnicity is still around, now an MP with the Progressive Socialist Party—and has emerged as Lebanon's foremost voice for cannabis legalization. Noting the resilient hashish economy in the Bekaa Valley, Jumblatt has actually been pushing cannabis as a cornerstone of security and economic development in Lebanon, which shows growing signs of being drawn into the Syrian war. In comments Jan. 14 to daily As-Safir, Jumblatt said: "I hold onto my opinion on the necessity of legalizing the cultivation of hashish... It's time to allow hash to be grown and to overturn arrest warrants against people sought for doing so." 

Lebanon's hashish valley arms against ISIS

Posted on January 7th, 2015 by Global Ganja Report and tagged , , , .

ISISReporting from Lebanon's hashish heartland of the Bekaa Valley on Jan. 5 Public Radio International spoke to cannabis farmers who say they are ready to resist any ISIS incursion into their fastness. Ali Nasri Shamas, who runs a  mechanized hashish factory in Bouday village, took up arms in 2007 to resist Lebanese government eradication forces. This paid off; the army hasn't been back since 2012. But now the Lebanese army and hash producers are confronting the same enemy. Although officially a wanted man for 35 years now, Shamas happily talks on-camera, alongside a three-ton yield of hash, flanked by masked employees, amid the clatter of processing machines.

Hashish mega-hauls at sea

Posted on October 7th, 2014 by Global Ganja Report and tagged , , , , , , , .

Middle EastYou think those international forces patroling the coast of Somalia are supposed to be protecting the sea lanes from pirates, right? Well, that's not all they're doing. In the latest operation completed on Oct. 6, an Australian frigate, the HMAS Toowoomba, backed up by a New Zealand search plane trailed a dhow—a type of sailboat traditionally used by Arab merchants— from the Arabian Sea to the Horn of Africa. After four days, the Australian crew was able to board the dhow, and a search turned up 5.59 metric tons of hashish. The operation was conducted under the command of Combined Task Force 150 (CTF-150), officially established to fight piracy. CTF-150 is part of the Combined Maritime Forces, which are also policing the waters of the Persian Gulf—ostensibly against terrorist infiltration, but far more often against hashish smuggling. The recent haul was its first successful counter-narcotics operation since Pakistan's navy took command of CTF-150 in August. Task Force head Commodore Sajid Mahmood said he was "incredibly proud" of the sailors and airmen involved in the bust. "CTF-150 has a long history of disrupting narcotics trafficking in the region," he enthused. "Keep up the good work!" (APNZ, Oct. 6)

Syria war fuels Lebanon hashish boom?

Posted on May 21st, 2014 by Global Ganja Report and tagged , , , , , , , .

Middle EastA May 20 Reuters report picked up by Israel's dialy Ha'artez portrays Lebanon's government as having basically thown in the towel on cannabis eradiction in the Bekaa Valley, apparently afraid of the war spilling across the border from neighboring Syria. Towns in the Bekaa were hit by rocket fire last year, and the valley continues to be shaken by periodic sectarian attacks related to the fighting across the border in Syria. During Lebanon's own 1975-1990 civil war, the fertile Bekaa Valley produced up to 1,000 tons of hashish annually, before production was nearly stamped out under an aggressive eradication program. "From the 1990s until 2012, cannabis eradication took place on an annual basis," Col. Ghassan Shamseddine, head of Lebanon's drug enforcement unit, told Reuters.  "But in 2012...it was halted because of the situation on the Lebanese borders and the instability in Syria."

Lebanon's hashish valley drawn into Syrian war

Posted on June 2nd, 2013 by Global Ganja Report and tagged , , , .

Middle EastLebanon's hashish heartland of the Bekaa Valley, hit by rocket-fire from Syria on June 1, has become increasingly embroiled in the civil war raging across the border. The fertile valley, which was occupied by Syria from 1976 to 2005, is a patchwork of Sunni and Shi'ite areas, and during Lebanon's civil war in 1980s the hashish and opium trade there funded sectarian militias. There are now ominous signs of a return to this deadly rivalry. In late March, gunmen from the Sunni town of Arsal—a conduit for arms and fighters for the Syrian rebels—kidnapped a member of the powerful Shi'ite Jaafar tribe, who was absconded across the border to the rebel-held Syrian town of Yabroud, north of Damascus. The Jaafars retaliated by kidnapping six Arsal residents—ransoming them to raise the ransom money to free their comrade held in Yabroud. Lebanese security forces helped oversee the hostage exchange, and no charges were brought. Arsal has also been the target of occasional cross-border shelling, presumably by the Syrian military. On May 27, unidentified gunmen attacked a Lebanese border checkpoint near the town, killing three soldiers.

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