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Tobacco and hashish: Citizens’ health prime victim of profiteering


Local newspaper lately covered two important agricultural topics, mainly, the rise in tobacco prices ( and the growing demand on cannabis, two critical issues deserving some developing. Regarding tobacco, the ministry of finance reportedly agreed last week to increase the prices by 50% from last year’s. In this respect, the vice president of the General Labor Confederation, head of the Union of Tobacco Growers, Hassan Faqih, monitored in the past few days the process of the delivery of supplies by the Regie according to the agreed price, describing this as a fair plan to compensate farmers who have suffered last year from the destruction of their harvest because of wildfires. Surprisingly, the price rise was followd by Regie reducing the prices of cigarettes by LBP 500 per pack of local smoke and LBP 1,000 per pack of imported smoke, attributing the reason for the lower prices to the decline in the dollar exchange rate. Regarding cannabis cultivation , with the start of the cannabis season, North Beqaa farmers rushed to the fields to collect and dry their plants in preparation for packing and processing without fear of damage, enthused by the recently ratified law legalizing the cultivation of cannabis. Al Akhbar daily noticed the expansion of plantations to around a total of 30,000 dunums this year from 20,000 dunums in the past two seasons, while pointing to the significant hike by 300% in this year’s prices compared to the past two seasons. According to one dealer, one haqqa is being sold at LBP 700,000 this year compared to LBP 200,000 last year, brought about by increased smugling opportunities . Remarkably in racking the two subjects, officials have demonstrated a clear lack of public responsibility in favour of narrow economic interests. It is to be noted that the regulatory decrees of the law legalizing cannabis for medical use have yet to be developed. Also absent is the creation of a regulatory body, the formulation of a production plan, the setting of prodction delivery points, development of infrastructure and mechanism for issuing licenses to farmers according to Al-Akhbar newspaper. Regarding the reduction in the price of cigarettes, the decision seems surprising, as it will lead to increased consumption, bad mpact on citizens’s health on one hand, and on the other will result in lower government revenues.

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