Lebanon’s cannabis farms flourish while army looks away

Growing cannabis in the Bekaa Valley

BEKAA VALLEY, Lebanon, May 20 (Reuters) – Driving around his Bekaa Valley farmland, Ali Nasri Shamas carries a revolver by his side and an automatic rifle in the back of his car, weapons he says he’s ready to use if the army moves in to try to destroy his lucrative cannabis crop.

But he may not need them this year. With Syria’s civil war raging 30 miles (50 km) away, Lebanese security forces have other priorities than their annual showdown with the Bekaa hashish growers.

“If they want a confrontation that’s no problem for us, it will be harvest season soon,” Shamas says, standing in a field of the green, spiky-leafed plants from which hashish resin is extracted.

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